Shortly before 9.00pm on 16th June, 2011, Richard Tonge, Clerk to the Trustees and himself a Trustee, rang the bell from the turreted Almshouses‟ belfry in celebration of 10 Years of excellent service by the Volunteer Guides after the restoration of the buildings handed back to the Trustees in 2001.
Earlier in the evening over 30 Trustees, Volunteers and guests assembled for a drinks reception (unfortunately not on the lawn outside because of the uncertain weather) whilst enjoying the keyboard piano playing of Sue Coates of Opera Sulis and Stonar School. The guests included those who played a major part in the life of the Almshouses in the past: John and Anne Lock, and Mrs Nancy Burrowes, wife of Dr. Burrowes who was sadly absent through illness-both former Wardens of the Almshouses- and Mrs Christine Reid. A special guest was Jayne England, occupier of Almshouse Number 1, who generously plies Volunteer Guides with tea and coffee when on duty.
All then adjourned to the Schoolroom to enjoy a delicious buffet before Peter King, Chairman of Volunteers, cut the celebration cake made by Mrs. G. Hall. Howard Vaile read out a remarkable e-mail received from a former resident of the Master‟s House, Mr. Peter Lindsay, now living in Edinburgh. On the very day of the celebrations (having learnt that the bell was to be rung) he contacted Howard. with his memory, as a child of five, ringing the school bell with his father to celebrate the news of the end of the Second World War. On that occasion he remembers that the rope was broken and the bell had to be swung by hand – coincidentally the rope broke again on this recent peel too!
Peter King then introduced Guy Hungerford who addressed everyone from the celebrated pulpit. Guy focused on the turbulent times of the Civil War and the Restoration, telling something of the life of our remarkable foundress and Guy‟s ancestress, Lady Margaret Hungerford, copies of whose portraits appropriately look down from over the huge fireplace. Afterwards, Volunteer Ron Smith gave a warm vote of thanks to Guy and those who had played a particular part in the arrangements for the evening, everyone agreeing that it had been a most enjoyable occasion.
Finally, just a reminder that details of the Almshouses, with opening times, are posted on our website, whilst Ron Smith (01249 701255) would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to join us as a Volunteer Guide.
Peter King. Chairman Volunteer Guides