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The Story of the Village News.

Most people who read our monthly village news would probably be surprised to learn that it has been produced regularly, in various forms, for well over sixty years!

The original Village News, known then as the Parish Paper, was produced by the vicar, and consisted of a single sheet of paper containing news of births, marriages, deaths, church services and local fund raising events. In 1939 production was suspended due to the war, but was resumed in 1947 on a quarterly basis, at a cost of 6d per copy. The first issue after the war was proud to announce that tenants had moved into the new council houses in Wilstone. The houses had all mod cons, but no pig stys!

Gradually the newsletter began to contain more news of other village events, and local firms were invited to advertise. By the 1980s the Parish Paper had evolved into a small magazine, the Long Marston, Puttenham and Wilstone Parish News, and was available to subscribers for an annual fee of 1.40, or 15p per copy.


In the ‘90s and early 2000s the magazine, by now enlarged to A4 size, had very attractive artwork on the front and back covers but it was in June 2003, after a change of editor, that the Village News became the publication that we know today.

In February 2004, through the financial support of the ‘Horti’ the subscription charge was dropped and the village News was distributed, free of charge, to every household in Long Marston, Wilstone and Puttenham. Under its new editor the magazine expanded, to include lots more local news, as well as recipes, readers letters and general interest articles.

June 2004 saw the first colour edition, and the magazine continues to go from strength to strength, having been voted 32nd out of 620 in the National Parish Magazine Awards of 2011.

Article written by Maggy Winship.

Acknowledgement: Christine Rutter.

The Boys’ Brigade in Long Marston.

 The Boys’ Brigade is a Christian organisation founded in Glasgow in 1883 by William Alexander Smith with the purpose of the “promotion of habits of obedience, reverence, self discipline, self respect and all that tends towards a true Christian manliness.”  The Boys’ Brigade proved a great success and ten years later, the Girls’ Brigade was formed along similar lines. An early admirer of the Boys’ Brigade was Lieutenant General Robert Baden Powell who, in 1907 founded the Boy Scouts.

In 1997 Long Marston residents Chris and Jan Longhurst, with the support of Rev. Martin Nathaniel, decided to set up a local branch of the Brigade. Both Jan and Chris were experienced Brigade officers, having helped to organise a number of groups over the years.

A  Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade were formed and the two groups joined together for the weekly meetings. The group was open to boys and girls aged between 5 and 11, and was held at the Victory Hall, Long Marston, although later moved to the Cecilia Hall, Puttenham. At its height the membership was twenty four children.

The weekly meetings would involve a lively mixture of games and stories, rounding the evening off with prayers. During the summer months camping trips were arranged and an annual open day organised to attract new members. This would include stalls, outdoor activities and a barbeque.

Sadly, the Long Marston Boys’ Brigade came to an end in June 2000 when Jan and Chris moved out of the area.

Article written by Maggy Winship.

Acknowledgements: Chris and Jan Longhurst.

For more information see The Boys’ Brigade Website.

The Long Marston Cricket Club

The Long Marston Cricket Club was formed in 1867, although there is evidence that an eleven from Long Marston played (and beat) Tring Cricket Club two years earlier in 1865.  Perhaps this taste of success prompted the players to go on to form the cricket club.

The cricket club played at various locations around the village including The Brade (field behind Marston Court) and latterly the Long Marston Recreation Ground on a coconut mat over concrete, but in 1961 moved to its existing site.  This move came about when it was heard that the Rev. Anthony was prepared to sell the Marlin’s allotments.

The cricket club had weekly committee meetings and the chairman, Len Dean, instructed Treasurer Chris Proctor to find out from his wife Jenny (who was Father Anthony’s housekeeper) if it was true that the site might be available.  The result was positive, a whip round of club members for the £40 deposit was held and the balance required was accrued by the committee. Trust deeds signed in 1961.

Terry Clay was one of the people who signed the deed and became a trustee.  Apparently this was by accident as, at the time, Terry a young boy working in the yard at Deans was asked to come in to provide an additional signature as legally required.  To this day he remains a trustee.

The club completed its pavilion in 1965 and the building was officially opened in 1966. Several extensions over the years have bought the clubhouse to its current state.

In the late 80’s extra land was purchased from the estate of Little Farm, Long Marston.  The club negotiated the purchase of this land, which enabled increased boundaries to be established, eventually bringing the pitch up to county standard.

The Long Marston Cricket Club has hosted matches in the National Minor Counties Championship every year since 1994, the first of these matches against Suffolk in that year, with international star Derek Randall as their pro. 

2010 saw Long Marston Cricket Club hosting games in the ECB Trophy National 40 Over competition, played by the second elevens of the top county sides, as well as the MCC Unicorns A (combined Minor Counties side containing many top level players).

The Cricket Club continues to thrive and currently boasts three teams playing in the Oxford Cherwell League.  In order that all three teams can play when two are scheduled to be at home, the Cricket Club has come to an arrangement with Mentmore Cricket Club to use their ground in exchange for Long Marston providing pitch maintenance, guidance and support.

A bore hole to the original allotment well was recently sunk.  Fortunately the borehole struck water but unfortunately, much to the players’ disappointment, not beer! 

Article was written by Paul Dumpleton.

For more information, visit the Long Marston Cricket Club website.

The Curry Club.

The Queen’s Head public house has gone through many phases through the years but none was more successful than during the late 1980s/early 1990s under landlord Simon Sturt when the pub won the Curry Pub of The Year Award.

The Curry Club was formed almost by accident. Shortly after becoming landlord in 1988 Simon noticed a group of gents coming into the pub each Thursday and leaving mid way through the evening. When he found that this was because every Thursday they went into Tring for a curry he offered to prepare them a curry at The Queen’s Head the following week. When this was served several other patrons asked if they could order one but Simon had only prepared enough for the original group. However he declared that from the following week Thursday night would be Curry Club night. 

A none too tasteful cartoon logo of Queen Victoria on the porcelain throne showing a tattooed buttock was quickly devised and The Curry Club went from strength to strength. These were not boil in the bag or mass produced curries but were prepared from scratch on the premises. The Curry Club soon became a World Tour as Simon sourced recipes not just from India but from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and the whole Asian region.

Finding a table on a Thursday night became harder and harder as word of the Curry Club spread and so every night through the week was declared curry night and a curry buffet was installed on weekday lunchtimes.

After winning several runner up titles in 1995 The Queen’s Head proudly won the Curry Pub of The Year award.

Sadly for Long Marston the Curry Club outgrew The Queen’s Head with Simon moving to the larger Grand Junction Arms at Bulbourne and later The Hawthorns Hotel in Glastonbury where the Curry Club is alive and well today (2012).

Article was written by Ian Nicholls.

For more information, visit the Hawthorn’s Hotel.

Tennis Club Memoire.

Towards the end of the fifties the village was slowly returning to normal after the Second World War.  The village school had been rebuilt after the direct hit from an enemy bomb, and in order to raise money to encourage sport in the village the Long Marston Sports Association was formed.  This enabled us to apply for any grants that were on offer. Money had been raised for a new village hall; football and cricket were in full swing, albeit both sports on the recreation ground with the help of a concrete wicket!  So thoughts were starting to turn to tennis.

Duncan Mead, the pioneer of the current farm shop with a stall outside his house, very generously allowed the youth of the village to play on his court at Highover, Gubblecote one evening a week, in the same way that Major Stoddart allowed the Cheddington youth to play on his court at the manor.

But naturally our aspirations were higher than this so with the support of the Sports Association an open meeting was called in the new village hall for anyone who was interested.  A good turnout ensued and a small committee was formed with Bill Milsom: Chairman, Michael Tomlinson: Treasurer and yours truly as secretary.  The year was 1960, I remember it well as I was heavily pregnant with my third offspring so there was not going to be much action from me!  We kicked (or rather served) off with a handful of members at a subscription of £1 pa.  The first subscription came in from Miss Calder the village Headmistress as a sign of support, I don’t think she ever played.

Fund raising began, aided by small grants from Dacorum Council and the LTA.  The one from Dacorum came with the proviso that the courts should be open to all on payment of a fee, and this pertains to this day.  Visitors to the village and inhabitants are all welcome to use the courts.

So the court was built on the recreation ground, just the one, not enough money or room for two, and no clubhouse.   And the Long Marston Tennis Club was born, and very quickly Badminton was added and played on Thursday evenings in the winter as an alternative to tennis

Soon friendly tennis matches with other local clubs were arranged and we all got very competitive, but our Chairman was a bit appalled by the apparel some of us turned up in and insisted that whites should be worn for matches!!  However, this was not always welcomed by all players especially on one memorable occasion when we all turned out in our whites, a bit like an advertisement for Daz!!  to find only 3 players from the opposition at the venue, which was a grass court in the garden of a local farmer.  Once we had knocked up and being assured that their fourth player would appear, a young man strolled out of the nearest cow shed, jeans and bobble hat in place, this will be easy we thought until he proceed to stroll round the court hitting balls we had never seen the like of before, I don’t think anyone got a game off him.  It was quite difficult after that to insist on the white rule!!  And look at the top players today, anything but white, the exception being Wimbledon of course

Of course, as today, players do like to make up their own double or single games and there was one memorable mens four who played on a Sunday morning at 10am.  Organised by Archie Bracher who extracted 10p a minute from each player who was late on court.

We all took our tennis extremely seriously so seriously in fact that I well remember one couple who reached the semi final of the ladies singles only to toss a coin to see who should go through to play the clubs leading singles player in the final!!!  No one would get away with that today.

The next milestone was the move to Emma’s orchard in Cheddington Lane where we play to this day.  We leased the Orchard from a Mrs. Harrington for £20 a year for 28 years this expired in 2005 and was renewed for a further 20 years at £200 pa which is now paid to her daughter.  Mrs. Harrington didn’t live in the village, but had a great attachment to Long Marston through her family.

Fund raising began in earnest in 1977 and great initiative was shown including bowling for a pig at the Tring Donkey Derby, although I gather the pig changed into a lamb when it was discovered that a licence had to be obtained to move a pig!!  (the winner could have it alive or ready for the freezer)! Grants were also obtained again as follows:

Dacorum Council – £2,680.00

Herts Playing Fields Association – £200. 

Loans were also obtained from:

Herts Playing Fields Association – £500

National Playing Fields Association – £600

Dacorum Council – £600

The members also provided loans of £975 (the majority of which were never called in).

So after three long years of fund raising the courts were eventually laid down in 1980.  The first clubhouse was a caravan and the second a wooden shed which was burnt down, these were used whilst planning permission for the current clubhouse was applied for, this was erected in 1983 and is the envy of every club in the league who plays here, spotlessly kept by the current members.

So the Tennis club thrived and prospered to where we are today with 60 adult members and 33 children. The adult subscription is now £65pa.  We put out four teams in the winter and six in the summer in the Aylesbury and District League (we are founder members of this).  For a village side this is no mean feat, playing clubs three times our size: Berkhamsted, Great Missenden, Halton and Aylesbury to name but a few. 

The big challenge at the moment is getting permission from Dacorum for floodlighting the courts.  We are the only club in the league without floodlighting and it is desperately needed to in order to bring the facilities up to standard and to remain competitive with all the other local clubs.  This has been ongoing since 2000, unlike in neighbouring counties, the planners have not been sympathetic.

This memoire sadly does not have room to record the generations of Chairmen, secretaries, Treasurers and committee members who have contributed so much over 60 years, there would just be too many to mention.  Suffice it to say that our current Chairman, Jane Dean: Secretary, Margaret Kelland: Treasurer, Andrew Screech and all the committee members are acutely conscious of the huge debt we owe to our forerunners who have made the Long Marston Tennis club the success that it is today.

Article was written by Joan Dean.

For further information see the Long Marston Tennis Club website.

Long Marston Memories – the Railway

Perhaps you have noticed a little cluster of houses a fraction over a mile north of Long Marston cross roads, on the road to Wingrave? Many older residents will know this as Marston Gate, the site of Long Marston’s past connection to the railway network.

The branch line that passed through Marston Gate ran between Aylesbury and Cheddington station linking with the main London and Birmingham railway. The almost dead-straight course is still easily identifiable on an aerial view, running roughly West-South-West from Cheddington station to the north end of Railway Street in Aylesbury, just across the road from B&Q. (more…)