War Memorial Gary Trouton

Wereham Village News

February 2008

Our monthly update from Wereham

St Margaret's News

The carol singers who come from door to door remain ever a special feature of Christmas Eve in England. This tradition had never transplanted to my part of Africa for some reason (in Zimbabwe, Christmas comes in the middle of the hot and sultry rainy season, would-be carollers would be drenched in torrential downpours and widely separated houses have large gardens, usually fenced and gated-- invariably patrolled by packs of large and unfriendly dogs -- so it is no surprise really that the carol singing tradition did not take root.

I was so pleased to learn that the merry band of youthful Carol Singers who came to our door this Christmas Eve, collected the meaningful sum of £190 to donate towards the restoration at St Margaret's. Well done and thank you Dom and Ellie, Will, Harry and Eleanor and Rob, Lucy and Jess.

New Year's morning was ushered in by the chimes of our newly restored clock and Bell -- what a happy sound for us all . It was Pippa Blackwell who cleverly observed " How lovely -- the church has got its voice back!" we couldn't agree more-and need to thank not only the Committee, who worked so hard and were so determined to succeed, but all the people of Wereham and neighbouring villages too, who supported them so generously. Thank you all so much!

Keeping time-the old way!

Arthur Ransome, Wereham's unofficial scribe and chronicler, describes in "Wereham Memories" printed in 1994 (on loan to me from Mary Matthews) how the church clock would be set daily by a conscientious old fellow who would climb up the ladder and set the clock to the correct time to the best of his knowledge.

In those days, the village lads used to meet up and congregate along the rails in front of the pond (although then it was called The Pit and only came to be called the pond later) while they waited for the pub to open. Invariably somebody would tell him that the clock was two minutes fast. Obligingly he would climb up the ladder once more and reset the hands of the clock.

It might stay that way perhaps until the evening when somebody else would look up and exclaim that the clock was now two minutes slow - obliging him to climb up yet again to correct the time! Undoubtedly this was fine sport for the lads who were simply whiling away the time until the pub opened!

It seemed in those days people used to get the correct time from Stoke Ferry station -- it was probably phoned through from London. Others could reliably take the time from the train whistle as it approached the level crossing at Stoke Ferry. It was always dead on time. Those were the days!

Pammie Walker


Vine House is a graceful Grade II listed building on the corner of Church Road in Wereham which has been the home of the Gribble family the past 22 years. Ray and Jane originally lived in Hertfordshire, where they had established an antique business. It was during this time that Ray gradually acquired and developed the special skills and knowledge necessary to restore antique furniture. Also, at this time, during their frequent trips to Norfolk, they fell in love with the area and decided to move here and establish a business in restoration and furniture making. Hertfordshire's loss became Norfolk's gain and Ray and Jane settled in Wereham.

To truly appreciate the many "miracles" of the restorer's art, one would need to peek into the pages of Ray's "Before and After" album. There you would see photographs of old, broken and woefully neglected pieces of once fine furniture that would seem to have languished forlorn and forgotten in many an attic. In the next photograph, Cinderella-like, they were transformed. Skilful hands had refurbished and remodeled sofas and armchairs (using, of course, the traditional techniques of fibre and hair stuffing, stitching and coiled springs). Broken arms and legs had been replaced and tables, chest of drawers and cabinets had broken and missing pieces grafted in and the natural beauty and gleam of fine old wood restored and any missing fittings, such as handles or castors, replaced with authentic reproductions (this is where Ray's knowledge of metalwork is so valuable).

I was curious "Would the skilful repair and restoration of a broken or damaged piece of furniture decrease its value significantly?" I asked.

"No, if a piece requires restoration, its worth has already decreased and therefore, careful restoration can only enhance its value."

I asked "Do you ever find yourself having to repair or undo poor and amateurish restoration attempts?"

"Yes indeed" he replied and added" nails and modern glue are the worst things to deal with and the most difficult to remove!"

Finally, I asked "Do you have any special advice about buying antiques?"

"I have been out of the buying market too long to feel comfortable about giving advice regarding price these days but I would say that now is the time to buy antiques especially everyday things like tables, cupboards and chairs. Prices are very low at the moment due to the current fashionable trend for minimalism in household furniture. However it will swing back...... It always does" he says with a little smile.

Another area of Ray's business is bespoke upholstered furniture; he makes his own frames which he then upholsters using only traditional methods and materials (he never uses foam).

He also provides a bespoke mirror and picture framing service and has a wide range of mouldings to choose from, including plain wood mouldings which can be hand finished and gilded.

Ray's website www.raygribble.co.uk is currently under reconstruction but his new website should be on line soon.

Lastly, if any of you reading this have questions you would like to ask relating to the repair or restoration of a piece of furniture in your possession, please e-mail them to me or to any member of G4 who will then forward them to me. I will collect your questions, which Ray has kindly agreed to answer, and we will publish them in a subsequent issue G4 News

CAPTION: Ray in his workshop with a Victorian armchair which he will re-web and recover and revive the finish to the woodwork

Wereham School Reunion

Were you by any chance that pupil at the village school in Wereham between 1945 and 1960? If you were I think you will be most interested in this letter I received from the West who is looking forward to organising a school reunion on Saturday the 26th of April this year. Sid West writes:

"I read with interest your report in the news on October the 23rd 2007 "Woodland bid takes root" (which was an article describing the planting of a tree on the village green by Wereham wildlife Woodland group.) In my visits to Wereham over the last 50 years I have noticed many trees have been lost in the hedgerows and the small coppice where I and my friends played as boys 58 years ago. My friend Richard Hawes and I planted an acre of trees in a private garden in Wereham. These trees are now some of the finest trees in the village. I also remember the willow trees being planted around the pond- which today looks so good. Wereham is and always will be, to me, a lovely village.

I was born in London in 1938 and evacuated to Wormegay Norfolk. At the end of the war we had lost our home in London and were moved to the village of Wereham. We moved into a house called "The Mansion" in Main Street -- now called Church Road. The house was shared by three families -- West, Williams and Jarvis -- a total of four adults and nine children. All of the children were educated at Wereham School. The headmaster was Mr T. J. Fendick and my first teacher was Mrs English. I remember these teachers with great fondness and saw them both for the last time just before their deaths. The Jarvis and West families moved to Downham Market and the Williams moved to Wretton.

I moved from the area on joining the Army in 1956 and never went back except to visit my old friends I'd still look on Wereham as my home and my roots and when the time comes I would like to think my ashes could be scattered beneath the trees that Richard and I planted so many years ago.

Mr Victor Cooper, Mrs Molly Frost (need Jarvis) and I are trying to arrange a school reunion for the people that went to the school from 1945 to 1960. This reunion to be held on Saturday the 26th of April 2008 in the village of Wereham.

Anyone wishing to attend please contact me to waste on 01924 827628 or by e-mail sidwest@talktalk.net

Pammie Walker

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