You are here: HomeSt Kenelm's GravesIndex of Graves in St Kenelm's Churchyard (Part II)Introduction

Introduction to Part II

By the late Joe Hunt, M.A.

The numbers in the text refer to the grave transcriptions listed here.

Burying PlaceThere is preserved among Romsley and District History Society's records a printed pamphlet of the sermon delivered by Hales Owen's longest serving Rector, Archdeacon Hone (he was at Hales Owen from 1836 to 1881) at the consecration of Romsley St. Kenelm's Churchyard on August 7th 1857. The title page is reproduced on the right.

From that title page it will be gathered that there are no ancient gravestones to be found here. That is not to say, however, that behind many of the inscriptions are not matters of great interest to the historian, the genealogist and the sociologist. It is gratifying, therefore, to be invited to preface a second volume of St. Kenelm's gravestone inscriptions denoted on the plan as Area 'D' of the Churchyard.

One brings to the task three quarters of a century of knowledge of the village of Romsley and its inhabitants, which allows the recording of much that would be irrevocably lost of the background, residence, occupation and achievements of many whose final resting place is in this "God's Acre".

D1. Edwin Charles Payter
An industrialist, specialising in the manufacture of aluminium plant, who lived for some years at "White Walls", a gracious house adjacent to the Water Tower on Romsley Hill.

D3. Herbert Victor Hunt
One of the Dayhouse family of Hunts, for many years groundsman at Hales Owen Athletic Club's track off Manor Way, Hales Owen (see also notes to D154).

D4, D87, D90, D101
John William Cowan, Edwin Joseph Allard, Mura Alberta Cornish, John Henry Cobley were among the original families and staff of Vincent Toffee Factory who moved to Hunnington from the Birmingham area at the opening of the Works in 1927.

D5. Lily May Grove
A great lover of St. Kenelm's Church who wrote a short play (preserved in the R.H.S. archives) about its patron Saint.

D10. Allan Burt Harper
A principal of the locally famous building firm of that name. Justice of the Peace and Chairman of the local Bench. Benefactor to St. Kenelm's. For some years member of the Parochial Church Council and Church Treasurer. Lived at Hunnington.

D14. Mildred Farmer
First wife of Charles Farmer who was second generation farmer of Holt Farm, Romsley, and one-time Chairman of Romsley Parish Council. (See also entry D70)

D17. William and Annie Brookes
William Brookes was a partner in the Blackheath iron and steel small wares manufacturing firm of Lowe and Brookes Ltd. He was one of a number of Black Country industrialists who moved to Romsley and district after the first World War. He had built and lived in the house called "The Limes" opposite Porch House Farm, Bromsgrove Road, Hunnington. A local benefactor whose memorial may be seen in the Screen, Choir Stalls and Communion area of Romsley Methodist Church. A keen supporter of Romsley Cricket Club.

D24. Francis Alexander Barton
The full story of Dr. F.A. Barton is yet to be told in the 'Papers Concerning the History of Romsley' Series, but the following extract, which appeared in the obituary columns of the 'Times' newspaper on April 22nd 1939, gives a good summary:

MEDICINE AND AERONAUTICS

Dr. F.A. Barton, who died at Nestalas, Romsley Hill Top, Worcestershire, on April 18th, made medicine his first interest, and to medicine he returned at the end, but the middle years of his long life were spent in other fields of endeavour – chiefly in experiments with airship construction, wherein he could claim real rights as a pioneer.

Francis Alexander Barton was born at Dover on May 17th, 1861, son of Dr. F.E. Barton. He was educated at Harrow, by a private tutor, and at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He proved an excellent oarsman, winning the gold and silver sculls and the "Pairs" and in October, 1882, rowing in the winning trial eight.

After graduating in the Natural Science Tripos, Barton went to St. George's Hospital and eventually set up in practice at Beckenham. He always had an eye for mechanical invention, and ran a motor-car as early as 1897.

In 1900 Barton began serious experiments in lighter-than-air aeronautics. He made a balloon at Alexandra Palace and in 1902, on the occasion of King Edward VII's Coronation, ascended in it from Beckenham, accompanied by a Frenchman called Gaudron. Packets of stamped postcards were thrown out of the car at various points. The balloon was carried over the Channel and came down in the sea just off the French coast; and Barton claimed that on that flight he was the first man in England to carry mails by air.

He made another ascent, from Manchester, later in the year. Barton then set to work to make a dirigible, and in July, 1905, his frail structure actually made a free flight from the Alexandra Palace to Romford. He continued his researches at the Palace often comparing notes with Cody who was working on heavier-than-air at the same place. Barton himself constructed at St. Helens, Isle of Wight, a hydroplane which rose a few feet into the air when on tow, at a date prior to the Wright brothers' first "hop".

Having exhausted all his money, Barton next went to Beausbleil, in the South of France, to experiment in the production of non-alcoholic wines. He made various inventions from time to time, and became interested in music, Christian Science, and Free-Masonry, among other things.

Just before the War he was again engaged in aeronautical work, and his Britannia airship was at one time supported by an influential syndicate and offered to the Admiralty – without result. During the War Barton took over a medical practice in Norwich, and in 1918 he was appointed Deputy Commissioner of Medical Services to the Ministry of Pensions for the county of Berkshire. In 1925 he went abroad for reasons of health, and latterly conducted a remedial centre at Alassio.

Barton married during his hospital years, and had several sons. Last year he brought out a book of reminiscences, "Jack of All Trades", which gave the detail of an astonishing career."

D29. The Kennett and Siviter Families
Again 'incomers' from the Black Country. John Kennett, a fervent Methodist, was a master builder, specialising in industrial buildings, and was the originator of an ingenious system of central heating which he installed in his residence near Fox Farm, St. Kenelm's Road, Romsley. Joseph's daughter, Gladys May, married Horace Siviter of Blackheath, and after being for many years active in Romsley Methodism, she and her husband moved to the Blackheath area, where they attended High Street Methodist Church.

D33. The Dexter Family
Members of this family lived for some years at Shut Mill Cottage, and the Mill House, formerly the property of Professor Leonard Johnston Wills.

D34. Richard Thomas Pearson
Though he died at Torquay, Pearson for some years lived at "Brooklands", a large well-appointed Edwardian dwelling adjacent to Telford's 1825 bridge over the Stour at Cornbow, Hales Owen. The house later became the Headquarters of Hales Owen and Hasbury Co-operative Society. In a malthouse, adjoining the house and overlooking the waterfall, the local Salvation Army met for many years.

D36. The Cooper Family
This was a family where the menfolk were skilled bricklayers, and it will be noted that the grave's flower holder has on it, in relief, a hammer and trowel. (See also D35.)

D41. The Follows Family
John Holden Follows, of Fieldhouse Farm, Romsley, was the last of a well-known family of local farmers which at various times tenanted Romsley Hill Farm, Farley Farm and Fieldhouse Farm. John was of the fourth generation to farm locally, and was one of a large family which included four brothers who, at one time, formed the backbone of Romsley Cricket Club. The boys were educated at King Edwards Five Ways School, Birmingham.

D50. Edmund Howard Kempson
Old Cliftonian. Nephew of Romsley's first Rector, the Rev. Howard Kempson, who lived for many years at "The Laurels", St. Kenelm's Road, the village's first parsonage. Member of Birmingham family well known for having produced musicians and medallists, and worked in the family's non-ferrous metal business in Birmingham. Founder of Romsley Cricket Club, with a local reputation as a marathon runner. Said to be Francis Brett Young's inspiration for Mr. Dakers in "My Brother Jonathan". (See also "Romsley's Roll of Fame".) Henrietta Kempson, Edmund's wife, ran from home a small private school for girls.

D51. Francis Edward Grainger
Member of Hales Owen family who farmed Back Lane Farm, Romsley. For some years Captain of Romsley Cricket Club. Allowed one of his fields opposite Romsley Rectory to be used as the club's playing field.

D52. The Moore Family
Harry Moore was said to be a stone-mason who produced this stone for his daughter's grave. She died in 1937. Eventually, in 1970, his wife was buried here, to be followed by the stone's creator himself in 1974.

D53. The Marsh Family
Richard John Marsh was a popular Hales Owen Butcher who catered for the poorer people of the town. Of him Lena Schwartz wrote in "The Hales Owen Story" (pub. 1955):

"The poor used to shop in Peckingham Street, the well-to-do patronised the tradesmen in High Street. There is still an R.J. Marsh at the bottom of Peckingham Street, conspicuous now for having one of the most up-to-date fronts in the town. Because Dick Marsh wished to cater for the poorest people, he specialised in Canterbury Lamb and chilled beef. His advertisements in sports programmes seem rather mysterious. "Lamb in the Parlour! You know the address! Still at the front as regards quality and price!" Pharaoh Adams had set up a butcher's shop where Dancers now have their men's department, premises which adjoin Marsh's, but Pharaoh could not compete for long with Dick's high pressure salesmanship. Years ago, Saturday night, often until midnight, was Hales Owen's busiest shopping time. Between nine and ten o'clock Dick worked himself into a fervour, expansively belligerent towards the crowd which gathered in front of his shop. An eight pound leg of mutton cost only a shilling, but as it grew late it grew even cheaper. Holding a clean towel to wrap their joint in, people stood ready to catch it as he hurled it through the air to the lucky bidder, if Dick felt like it, and business was slow."

D54. The Wagstaff Family
William Wagstaff for some years ran the village coal merchant's business from premises now demolished, almost opposite Romsley School. The business was continued by his son, Leonard. On a piece of common land outside his house was one of several village wells which provided water for villagers prior to the coming of a piped supply, circa 1911. William also owned a small dairy farm on Romsley Hill, the barns of which, following his death, were slowly vandalised, and have now vanished. Ostensibly never a Churchman, nevertheless, at his death, he left a sizable legacy to St. Kenelm's, the interest of which was to be used for the upkeep of the Churchyard.

D55 & D56. The Smith Family
Not apparently connected with the Smiths of Chapel Farm (see D155 and D156). A family which seems to have set great store by learning. Harold Smith matriculated in 1902 and became a student at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, on October 21st of that year. He read Mathematics and in June 1905 obtained a degree in that subject (hence "3rd Wrangler 1905", "Wranglers" being the term for Mathematicians). He went on to read Part I Mechanical Sciences for one year and obtained a Second Class result. A B.A. Honours degree was awarded to him in June 1905, and an M.A. degree on November 18th 1918. The respective dates would indicate that Harold and Arthur Eric were brothers, but research has failed to discover where the latter obtained his degree in Science. Widespread enquiries have failed to discover the subsequent careers of this scholarly pair.

D61. The Collins Family
Isiah Collins was one of several Black Country Master Bakers who came, between the wars, to live at Romsley. Others included the Birches, the Bradleys and the Plimmers. Collins first had a weekend temporary home at the foot of Walton Hill, but later moved to the Tiled House, Bromsgrove Road, Romsley. Like the Birches he later sold his business to one of the national multiple bakery firms, so that the Collins name has now disappeared from the trade. Collins was a local benefactor and an enthusiastic film maker. If his films of local events have survived, they could form an important part of the village archives.

D63. Kate Emmie Hadley
Born Kate Woodall, she lived with her brother George at the Edwardian House opposite Romsley School. The Woodalls had a metal smallwares manufacturing business in Hales Owen. George lost his arm in an accident in his factory during World War I. He is possibly buried in the same grave as his sister, certainly at St. Kenelm's, but is remembered in the Church by the door leading to the vestry and gallery stairs which is inscribed in his memory. Members of a previous generation of the Woodalls were village innkeepers.

D66. Moore
Another memorial to a First World War soldier. L/Corporal Leslie Moore. No details of his service career are presently available. It is unlikely he is buried here, but that on the death of his parents, the earlier death of the son was recorded.

D67. Robert E. Newbury
Infant son of George Newbury who founded Newbury Motors which once flourished in Manor Way on a site now occupied by Benz Motors. The family lived in the large house adjacent to and just behind the garage.

D70. The Farmer Family
Grandparents of the present owner of Holt Farm where three generations of the family have lived. A wall cabinet in Romsley Church Hall, presented by her daughter Phyllis, commemorates Selina Farmer. The family were related to the Gill family which once farmed The Hayes Farm in Farley Lane, Romsley.

D72. Newton
Thought to be the father of the much-loved local doctor, Dr. Terence Newton. (See also D104.)

D79. Harry Martin
Carpenter to Romsley Sanatorium and later village Carpenter. Member of old Belbroughton family. Built own house alongside Romsley Hill Common. Son John trained in Hales Owen law office, worked latterly with Collins Bakeries, became Gloucester Diocesan Registrar, and was for some years Secretary of Romsley St. Kenelm's Parochial Council.

D84. The Reece Family
Farmers of Pen Orchard, the land of which adjoins St. Kenelm's Church. Flora Reece was a member of the centuries old local family – the Deeleys. The farm has on it interesting remains, possibly remnants of the now vanished village of Kenelmstowe, but erroneously supposed to be ruins of the local Hunting Lodge of the Mercian Kings.

D88. Mackenzie
Grave of locally famous artist, Clarence Valentine Mackenzie, who was born in 1889 and hailed from Brighton, where he received his early training at the local school of art. During the First World War he served in the Artists Rifles; though not as an official war artist, but a number of his war paintings survive. He came to Dudley Grammar School to teach Art circa 1920; his first teaching post after war service.

Ill health caused his retirement from teaching in 1946, but he had been honorary curator at Dudley Art Gallery since 1933, a post he then occupied full time for the last two years of his life. A disciple of Frank Brangwyn, he exhibited his work at the Royal Academy, the Royal Scottish Academy, the Royal Society of British Artists, and the Royal Institute of Water Colour Painters. A founder member of the Hales Owen Art Society and its first Chairman, he was also associated in the sphere of scenery painting with the Old Halesonians Amateur Dramatic Association (OHADA).

The Mackenzies lived for many years in a house called "Ovingdean" near Waterfields Garage at Hayley Green, Hales Owen, and were familiar figures as they travelled with all their painting gear by means of a motorcycle with a huge sidecar, recording all the local beauty spots. St. Kenelm's Church and its environs was a favourite subject, and a number of pictures of it can be seen in various collections.

Mackenzie died at the comparatively early age of fifty-nine and it was fitting that his funeral service and the burial place of himself and his wife should be at St. Kenelm's. Mrs. Mackenzie was also a competent artist, specialising in still life subjects. She taught at Dudley Teachers Training College.

D92. The Witcombe Family
"Charley" Witcombe (1884–1952) was Station Master at Hunnington Station from 1908 to 1944, and so was in charge when it was used for both passenger and goods traffic. He was succeeded in 1944 by H.W. Evans and in 1949 by Gordon Limb. A popular figure in the twin villages of Romsley and Hunnington, Charley was an enthusiastic follower of the Albrighton Woodland Hunt. His only son is commemorated by stone D105.

D94. Louisa Clulee
Wife of William Clulee who, one suspects, is also buried here. The Clulees were an old Romsley family, with many entries in the Census returns, where they appear as Woodcutters and Innkeepers. Several generations of the family lived in a pair of cottages, now demolished, on Romsley Hill, on an island of land between the main Bromsgrove road and the Pleck. Modern houses now occupy the site. William Clulee, a Church-goer when young, is recorded as organ-blower there. Latterly he worked as coachman and then gardener for T.L.L. Bradley, Architect, of Winwood Heath, and was Treasurer of the local branch of the Loyal and Ancient Order of Foresters. He was an enthusiastic gardener and apiarist.

D100. Price
Charlotte Price (nee Harrison) was one of five daughters of Albert Harrison of Red Hill House, Hunnington. He was one of several Black Country manufacturers who acquired large country houses after the 1914–18 war. The whole family were adherents of Methodism and brought their support of that cause from Reddall Hill Methodist Church at Old Hill to that at Romsley. Two daughters, Charlotte and Fanny, each married a Methodist Minister.

D104. Newton
George Terence Newton was one of the best loved General Practitioners of his time in the Hales Owen and Romsley area. A graduate of the Birmingham University School of Medicine, his practice was housed in Great Cornbow, Hales Owen. He lived at Kenelmstowe, the house at the top of the hill on the road from St. Kenelm's to Romsley. A progressively crippling disease brought his early demise at the age of forty-four, but he fought his disability with great courage, continuing to practise from a wheelchair until shortly before his death. Newton's widow, recently deceased (1992) now lies with her husband.

D105. Edwin John Witcombe
Son of former Hunnington Stationmaster (see D92).

D107. Fritz
Who was Fritz? His dates (1926–1964) suggest he may have been a German ex-soldier. A prisoner-of-war perhaps, who chose not to return to his native country? The inscriptions indicate he had engendered a great deal of affection from his English friends.

D116. Sidaway
The Sidaways came from the Old Hill area in 1906 to take up farming at Horsepool Farm, Hunnington, in what was then the village's oldest and architecturally the most important house. Erected in 1763 and mentioned in Pevsner's "Worcestershire", it was demolished in 1959, a fate which would have saddened Simeon and Elizabeth Sidaway. Simeon was a familiar and friendly figure on Romsley roads, where with his horse and cart, he was under contract to the local Authority for road work, haulage, snow clearance and the like. Evenings would find him in the bar parlour of the Sun Inn, the cheery centre of a group of elderly villagers discussing local gossip over a friendly pint of "mild". Descendants of a large family still live locally, and one son emigrated to farm successfully in New Zealand.

D117. Joseph and Eliza Parkes
The Parkeses lived at the bottom of Red Hill, Hunnington, in a steeply roofed bungalow of part sandstone construction which Joseph built single-handedly. Buying the plot between the main road and the Breach bridleway, he excavated much of the stone for his house from his own land. It was said that during its building he walked daily from his Black Country home and either dug from the soil or cast from concrete at least one of the huge blocks from which his walls were constructed. A doughty man was this, of whom Francis Siddall writes in her 1946 sketch of Hunnington: "Joseph Parkes fought the miners' cause in personal interviews with Gladstone, Joseph Chamberlain and other contemporary statesmen."

Appeals in local newspapers and magazines for more information about Parkes's political activities have so far produced nothing, but the writer remembers that he wrote vernacular poetry, which his wife, a tall gaunt figure, was always pleased to recite in an appropriate Black Country accent, at W.I. and similar meetings. One correspondent, who revealed that the Parkes's bungalow had been built largely from sandstone, dug up on the spot, and also told of Mr. Parkes's excavations having brought up some gold coins which he had sent to the British Museum. Room for more research here!

D124. Flt. Sgt. J.W. Boilstone
One of five airmen's graves in St. Kenelm's Churchyard. John William Boilstone, son of Joseph Pearson and Dorothy Boilstone, was born in Blackheath in 1915 and attended Orchard House and Wrights Lane School. Always interested in things mechanical, he served an apprenticeship at Austin Motors, Longbridge. With the advent of war in 1939 he joined the R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve with the avowed ambition to become a pilot.

Training took place in Canada and Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A., where he learned to fly many types of aircraft. Back in England he was posted to the Air Transport Auxiliary as a Ferry Pilot (Service No. 1245319), engaged in ferrying new aeroplanes.

He met his future wife, Dorothy Margaret Ashmore, when she was only fourteen and he seventeen, and the area round St. Kenelm's was favourite courting country for the couple. Because of their love for St. Kenelm's, they decided to marry there. The ceremony took place on August 26th 1942 while Boilstone was on two days' leave. The marriage was to be a short one, and because of defence regulations the new Mrs. Boilstone had no idea at any time where her husband might be flying.

On December 9th 1943, while serving with No. 12 Maintenance Unit, he was piloting a Beaufort LZ16 of No. 16 Ferry Port to a Scottish airfield when, with poor visibility, it crashed one hundred yards West of Kirkbridge Airfield and he was killed instantly. Because of the secrecy surrounding plane movements, the widow had difficulty in finding the whereabouts of the crash, and even greater difficulty in getting her husband's body back to St. Kenelm's for burial. Only an R.A.F. Burial party was present at the funeral conducted by Rev. E.J. Owen, then Rector of Romsley.

From 1943 to 1987 Sgt. Boilstone's widow attended the grave assiduously, and only age and failing health caused her to give up. She eventually remarried, and now lives at Cradley Heath, and thanks to the present investigation, has arranged for the grave to receive attention, and she is to resume the provision of altar flowers for the Church on the Sunday nearest to the anniversary of his death.

D126. The Lowe Family
This grave is of members of yet another Black Country business whose principals sought a country residence after the First World War. Lowe Bros. Ltd., Timber Merchants of Old Hill, is still in business. Albert Charles Lowe bought a piece of land near to the Romsley Hill end of Dark Lane and built on it a wooden weekend bungalow which, much altered, still exists. He was a Methodist Local Preacher. Charles Leonard Lowe, who is also commemorated and buried here, was the son of Albert Charles and combined business with Methodism and lay preaching.

D131. Frederick Perry Simnet
A schoolmaster who on retirement came to live at Hunnington, and was for a time Clerk to the Hunnington Parish Council.

D134 & D135. Fielding
Although D134 carries only a person's Christian name, it is undoubtedly a memorial to Ernest Arthur Fielding, son of Walter J. and Mary Ann Fielding who lie in Grave D135. Walter Fielding in his retirement was largely responsible for reviving the Methodist cause at Dayhouse Bank. He lived in a semi-detached house in Bromsgrove Road, Romsley, which for many years after his death was occupied by a bachelor mentally sub-normal son. Walter had several unmarried sisters who lived in a now demolished wooden bungalow in St. Kenelm's Road, between the Rectory and the Church.

D143. The Attwood Family
The headstone and plinth record the death of Joseph Attwood and his wife Florence Lizzie who are buried there, but also recorded is the death on active service in World War I of their son, 2nd Lieutenant Joseph T. Leslie Attwood. On 25th September 1918 he was flying a DH4 Aircraft Serial No. A2159, carrying out a strategic bombing raid on German targets, when he was shot down and killed.

Commonweath War Graves Commission Record Book Vol. 30 contains the following additional information:

Charmes Military Cemetery Essegney France
Attwood 2nd Lt J.T.Leslie, 55 Sqd R.A.F.
25th Sep 1918 Age 22 yrs.
Only Son of Joseph & Florence Lizzie Attwood.
126, High Street, Old Hill. Staffs. Grave I.C.5.

Squadron 55 (Motto: Nil nos tremefacit. "Nothing shakes us") was formed at Castle Bromwich 1916, April 27th, as a training unit. It was the first squadron to be equipped with D.H.4s, that being in Jan 1917. The Squadron went to Lilbourne, France sometime around March. Its role was to carry out bombing, reconnaissance duties, attacking enemy airfields, bases and communications behind the Western Front.

The Independent Force was formed in June 1918, and the squadron was ordered to join No. 41 Wing, to carry out strategic bombing raids on German targets.

D144. The Chatwins
Henry Chatwin was the only one of the Black Country 'incomers' to bring his trade with him. He was a highly skilled chainmaker, and, after having holiday accomodation in Romsley for some years, had a house built for himself on the corner of St. Kenelm's Road and "The Hedgerows". He constructed a chain shop in his garden, and for many years the noise of hammer and anvil could be heard as he turned out large quantities of medium size chains. Some members of a large family of one son and four daughters still live locally. He and his family were stalwarts of the local Methodist Church.

D149 & D150. Ldg. Aircraftman Ling and Sgt. J. F. Harrison
Since both these airmen lie at the foot of standard War Grave Commission Headstones, it is appropriate to combine the two entries. In a letter dated January 13th 1993 the Commonwealth War Grave Commission advised that while it was responsible for maintaining the stones, it did not maintain the actual graves. In view of the poor condition of these, recourse was made to the local Royal Air Force Association, and with gratifying results, for now the graves have been stone covered and free from nature's encroachments. From the R.A.F. Historical Branch and private sources have come the following details of the two airmen's service careers.

Derek John Ling No. 937983

R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve. No 600 Squadron
Killed in Action Dec. 24th 1940 Aged 27
Son of Herbert James and Kathleen Mary Ling of Putney, London.

Jeffrey Frederick Harrison No. 952921

Son of Frederick and Edith Annie Harrison of West Heath, Birmingham. Born 1917. Address in St. Kenelm's Register, 162 Jiggins Lane, Bartley Green, Birmingham. Harrison was a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner. On May 21st 1941 Blenheim Aircraft L9388 of 190 Tu, Upwood, was engaged in a cross-country exercise. At approximately 16.30 hours due to bad weather causing low cloud and poor visibility, the aircraft crashed into high ground near Poaka Beck Reservoir, Dalton, Lancs. The crew in addition to Sgt. Harrison were:

928400 Sgt. L. Prior, Pilot
64290 P/O George V. Wilson, Observer

All were killed in the crash.

D151. Flt. Lieut. John Shorthouse
Shorthouse enlisted on Nov 20th 1941 and was discharged to Commission in Oct 1943, having achieved the rank of Leading Aircraftman. He was issued with new Service No. of 157179, and served in the General Duties branch of the Service. He died on September 26th 1949 while engaged on an air exercise involving No. 61 Squadron Lincoln Bombers from Kirkham, Lancs. He was twenty-six years old and his home address is recorded as 8, Edward Road, Warley, Birmingham. The burial service at St. Kenelm's was conducted by the Vicar of his home Church, St. Hilda's, Warley Woods.

D154. The Price Family
The ashes of a great athlete, Jack Price, are buried here. Born in a small Shropshire village in 1884, at the age of seventeen, having heard of the good wages to be earned in the industrial Midlands, he gathered together his few possessions and set off on foot one day in search of employment. That night, tired and hungry, he had reached Hasbury and was given food and a night's lodging at the home of a local Salvationist. (He was to be associated with the Salvation Army for the rest of his long life). His first work in the area was on the Elan Valley to Birmingham water pipe line (an undertaking to be used by Brett Young in many of his novels) but latterly found permanent employment at the vast Stewarts and Lloyds tube works at Coombs Wood, Hales Owen.

Working alongside Jack was a Malcolm Glaze who, in 1904, persuaded him to take part in a walking race from Hales Owen to Kidderminster. He won the race (the 1st prize was a 50/- suit) which proved to be the turning point in his career. Henceforth athletics in general, and long distance running in particular, were his primary interest. For two years he ran as an individual, achieving only moderate success, but on joining Small Heath Harriers in 1906, he soon shot to the top as a cross country runner.

Achieving success in the National Cross Country Championships of that year, he was chosen to represent England at the Newport International Event. Selected for the 1908 Olympic Marathon race, he was unsuccessful, although he had previously beaten the winner's (the American Indian Longbend) time. This frustration spurred him on to greater effort, and he turned professional.

Then victory followed victory. Chief among them being his winning the great Penderhall Marathon at Edinburgh. Cups, trophies, medals and other prizes accumulated, and when a bedroom suite he had won was delivered to his modest terraced home in Mount Street, Hales Owen, another record was added to his name, for no other house in the street had one! The list of his racing successes was formidable, and would have been much greater but for the advent of World War I which Jack spent in the trenches of Belgium and France.

Surviving unscathed he returned to Hales Owen determined to found an athletic club for working class sportsmen. So, in 1922, the Hales Owen Athletic and Sporting Club was formed, which now has its own track and club premises on what was once part of the land of the town's Premonstratensian Abbey. These eleven acres of drained marshland now provide facilities for cycling, running, cricket and tennis. That, rather than the St. Kenelm's tombstone, is Jack Price's true memorial.

He marked his fiftieth birthday by running twenty miles in two hours, and virtually right up to his death at the age of eighty-one he was a familiar and much loved figure as he strode over the Clent Hills. On the occasion of the burial of his cremated remains at St. Kenelm's in Dec 1965, the cortege started from the Manor Abbey ground and, after the committal, a group of club members returned there and completed a memorial run to Clent and back, using the route that their old mentor had used for so many years for his training.

D155 & D156. The Smith Family
An unusual group of graves, the inscriptions recalling a unique farming family which for generations farmed land around St. Kenelm's Church, eventually becoming tenants of the adjoining Chapel Farm, built in 1887, then part of the widespread estate of the Hagley Lytteltons. The farm and outbuildings, now converted into three dwellings, replaced earlier farm houses on the site, possibly dating back to Norman times when the original Church could have been that of the Lord of the Manor whose Hall would adjoin it.

The Smiths lived an isolated life, resisting all modern comforts until the last members of the family to live there, succumbing to the frailties of old age, reluctantly had electricity and the telephone installed. To the end they had no mains water supply.

Two generations of Smiths lie here, parents, and nine children. Of this large family, only one child, a daughter, married. For the rest none, for the whole of their lives, had travelled more than a few miles from their home, and the interior of the house was a time capsule of Victoriana.

The Churchyard was, of course, carved out of the original farmland, and in 1919 when the Lychgate was built and an iron fence was built to divide the graveyard from the farm, a bitter boundary dispute ensued which erupted into near violence between male members of the Smith family and the then Incumbent.

The Smith sisters catered for visitors to the Church, and the neighbouring hills, and achieved local fame for the cheapness and wholesomeness of the home produced fare they offered. They were well known, too, for the large cakes, models of the Church, which they made for important festivals.

D157. Horton
John Horton was a Birmingham manufacturer of metal pressings, chiefly for the automobile trade, who built up a successful business under the name of L. Shelley Ltd. in the City before transferring it to a purpose-built factory in Manor Way, Hales Owen, now an annexe of the large Sandvik factory. He and his wife came to live in Hunnington in one of the houses opposite Dove House Fields Farm.

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Some contents of this website are taken from the book Romsley and Hunnington, a Millennium History,
written by Joe Hunt and Julian Hunt and published by the Parish Councils of Romsley and Hunnington, in association with the RHHS.

Please respect the copyright of our work and do not reproduce any of the information published on this website without permission.