I spent the weekend following my attendance at the ICS Chaplains and Families Conference, visiting my two adult children. Then, having met up with my nephew Tim in Leamington, I spent a couple of nights in South Wales, reconnecting with two friends from my time at University in Lampeter during the mid 1970s. I then drove from South Wales to the south coast of England, to spend my last two nights on British soil, staying with my sister June and brother-in-law Garry, at their home in Bournemouth.
On the last stage of my journey, I decided to make a short detour from the the A338 between Salisbury and Bournemouth, to visit the small village of Woodgreen on the edge of the New Forest. I wanted to once more see the unique murals painted on the walls of the village hall, in which my mother, aunt and uncle all appear.
Woodgreen Village Hall was built between 1930-31. Over a period of eighteen months in 1932-33, two students from the Royal College of Art in London, Robert Baker and Edward Payne, created a series of murals covering the interior walls of the hall, depicting village life at the time. One of the scenes depicts a group of country dancers and it is in this mural that my mother and her sister and brother are all depicted.
This photograph shows the left half of the country dancing mural. The young lady in the pink dress standing in the centre of the circle created by the other three dancers, is my mother Elsie Cutler. At the time this was painted she was either sixteen or seventeen years old. The young lady in the green dress on the left of the photograph, (on my mother’s right), is her older sister Edith Cutler, always known to me as my Auntie Edie.
Below is a photograph of the complete mural. The young man on the left of the dancing circle on the right side of the mural, is my Uncle Cecil John Cutler.
Strictly speaking, my mother and her sister and brother, did not live in Woodgreen. They lived at Godshill Wood Farm, located halfway between Woodgreen and the neighbouring village of Godshill to the south. However, as the country dancing team was based in the village of Woodgreen, they were included in the mural painting.
Last year, the Woodgreen Village Hall Management Committee organised a party to celebrate the eightieth anniversary of the murals to which those who are featured in them who are still alive, were invited, along with the descendants of those now deceased. There is a report here, which includes a link to photographs of the event.
Unfortunately, neither my sisters and I, nor my cousin David, son of my Auntie Edie, were invited to attend. My Uncle Cecil John never married and had no offspring. The reason we were not invited was due to none of us having the surname ‘Cutler’, because of our respective mothers marrying and taking the surname of their husbands. Another cousin who does have the surname ‘Cutler’, was asked if he was a direct descendant. He rightly said that he wasn’t but didn’t have the common sense to give the organisers our details, even though he knew them 🙁
However, when I called at the home of the village hall caretaker, to ask if I could see the murals as my mother appeared in them, she freely let me have the key to gain access, hence I was able to take these photographs. My sister June has since told me that they now do have our contact details. Therefore, if there is to be a ninetieth birthday party, hopefully we may be invited.
On Thursday 22nd May, my sister June and I travelled as foot passengers on the ferry from Lymington, to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, where we were met by our sister Jenny who lives on the island. We had a most enjoyable day together, during which I took this photograph of the two of them.