New school at Westhide;  stealing, poaching, strange goings on in the sky and more

1845 – Inquest at Westhide

Henry Powell, a labourer was crossing the locks of the canal with another man one night, when he slipped and fell in.

His body was found by his companion half an hour later.

The verdict was accidental death.

1845 – Another Drowning at Westhide

The body of George Bowcott was found in a pond in a field at Westhide;  with no evidence to show how the lad ended up in the pool it was assumed that he had been running along the banks and fallen in.

1847 – Kindly Conduct at Westhide

Mr. John Morris of Westhide was concerned about the very high price of fresh food and the effect that this was having on the poor over the long and bitter winter.

With a remarkable benevolence, John allowed all the poor in the parish of Westhide to have free access to around ten acres of turnips, to gather as many as they wished to take home to eat.  Within a short time all the turnips were gathered and this act of kindness was no doubt very much appreciated.

Rather a contrast to the actions of a man at recent assizes, who prosecuted a poor man for stealing 7 turnips from a field.

1848 – Charge of Stealing at Westhide

Ellen Thomas worked for Mr. Skipp at Westhide, and was shortly to be married to a lad named John.

It seems that she was desperate to make some provision for the forthcoming event, and she stole two jars of butter;  some bacon and a home spun sheet from her employer.

The gamekeeper at Westhide gave the game away when he noticed Ellen with a basket full of the goods, which were later positively identified.

She was Committed for trial, and became distraught.

1855 – The Perils of Drink

J.S. Bassand aged 47, who worked for the Rev. E. Bulmer, had finished for the day and was returning home to Westhide but was rather drunk – this being very unusual for him, but it was Easter Monday and he had imbibed more than he normally did.

Whilst attempting to get over a stile in the meadow by Ailstone Hill he tumbled backwards and broke his neck.

When he was found in a state of total paralysis, he was taken to the infirmary but was not expected to live.  Poor fellow, one rather hopes that he didn’t as his life would have been intolerable.

1862 – Violent encounter with Poachers at Westhide

In December 1861, Mr. Hodges the gamekeeper to Mr. Brookes of Westhide was with two watchers named Williams and Jones late at night.

They heard footsteps closeby and the watchers went into the wood to investigate,  leaving Mr. Hodges behind.  After a few minutes, Mr. Hodges heard noises of a severe scuffle and he rushed into the wood where he found a dreadful fight between his watchers and two tall and powerful men who were using bludgeons unmercifully.

The poachers had a dog which was encouraged to grab hold of Williams’ leg, and when it did so it tore the flesh savagely.

A violent fight ensued, with the dog joining in, until the poachers began to get the upper hand, but thankfully they finally decided to scarper.

Mr. Hodges the gamekeeper knew the poachers, so didn’t bother to follow them, instead making for a nearby farmhouse.  The farmer rode to Hereford to the police, who immediately set watch on one of the poachers houses, and after a short while the suspect arrived home with the dog.

Evidence of poaching was found in the house after a struggle with the second suspect who had tried to barricade himself in.

The two poachers were named as Thomas Griffiths and John Williams – they were remanded in custody pending trial.

October 1863 – School Opening and Harvest Thanksgiving

October 1863 saw the results of a superb harvest, and tied in with the celebrations was the opening of the new school at Westhide.

For some time, the rector the Rev. W.H. Lambert along with friends and parishioners had worked to build a new school and home for the teachers, and it was a cause for great rejoicing when work was completed.

The church was decorated with flowers and evergreens, and fruit and corn was displayed throughout the building.  Even the graves were adorned, and reporters said that the old, time worn and dilapidated church was given a new lease of life for a few days.

The new School

After the harvest festival service, everyone went to the new school where forty eight children were given tea and plum cake (it was ALWAYS plum cake!)

As well as the school room, in the new building was a parlour;  kitchen;  scullery and two bedrooms and it was built from red and black bricks with Bath stone dressings.

The cost of the building, exclusive of fences, drainage and fittings was around £300 and was built by  Messrs Niblett and King of Gloucester to the design of Mr. Blashill of Old Jewry Cambers, London

1863 – Strange Phenomenon in the Sky at Westhide

One Friday evening in April of 1863,  a dark cloud was spotted moving towards the Malvern Hills from the south and a short while later the cloud became alive with brilliant colours and became an inverted conical shape.

Many people were somewhat alarmed, wondering what on earth was happening, but by all accounts it was a beautiful sight and remained in the sky for quite some time before melting away.

1863 – Child Burns to Death In Hopyard

Sarah Scandrett aged 2, died when her clothes caught fire in a hopyard at Westhide.

Sarah’s mother was tying in hop wires for Mr. Moseley, and as was normal practice, she made a little fire in order to boil a kettle for tea.  Later she scattered the embers with her foot and went back to work, and it was assumed that Sarah began playing with the fire.

Frantic assistance was given, but the child died shortly afterwards.