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Comment: Upstairs, downstairs in Milton Keynes Village

Milton Keynes Village Church

Milton Keynes Village Church

  • by John Taylor – The Way We Were
 

THE centenary of the beginning of the First World War is just a couple of years away, and it’s encouraging that the Government is planning appropriate measures towards recognising the sacrifice made by an entire generation.

As for efforts to recognise the contribution from our immediate district, it may be of interest to know that a book containing letters from local men serving at the various fronts is now available, as also a book detailing the story of Bletchley during WWI.

Companion volumes detailing Newport Pagnell and Stony Stratford are in preparation, as also is one which chronicles everyday life in the local communities during that period.

In fact included in the latter is the then village of Milton Keynes, regarding which a recent article featured the early arrival of Belgian refugees.

Prominent in securing their accommodation was the rector of the village, the Reverend G. Hawkes Field, who on Whit Sunday 1915 took up the position as a chaplain to the Forces and spent several weeks among the troops in Norfolk.

He then left his name on the list and on Friday, November 26, 1915 took up duty as temporary chaplain to troops stationed at Plymouth.

Meanwhile, his wife remained at the Rectory and with this still being an era of upstaris, downstairs. in the course of domestic life she advertised the need for a household servant.

Consequently a 16-year-old girl began employment as a ‘cook general’ but matters did not work out, for one morning Mrs Field went into the kitchen and told the girl to accompany her to the bedroom, where some work had not been done.

The girl refused and was then told to pack her box and leave at once.

This she refused to do, whereupon Mrs Field said: “Very well, I will wait till you have packed.”

When the girl still did not comply Mrs Field made arrangements to fetch Miss Cother, the lady superintendent of the Preventative and Rescue Home at Fenny Stratford, from where the girl had originally been sent.

On arrival she asked what the matter was and on receiving no reply opened a cardboard box belonging to the girl, in which were discovered several articles stolen from the house.

Miss Cother then said that this was a case for the police and following the arrival of Police Constable Britnell, two purses were found in the girl’s handbag.

It duly transpired that the girl had a considerable criminal record and at the subsequent hearing it was thought advisable to send her for trial at the Quarter Sessions.

Here she pleaded guilty with it being revealed that she had originally been in a situation near Leicester but was dismissed for petty thefts and sent to a Refuge Home.

She was next placed in a situation at Henley-on-Thames, from where, having opened a missionary box and stolen the contents, she was dismissed and sent to another Refuge Home.

Subsequently she was placed in service at Maidenhead but was again dismissed for bad conduct and petty thefts.

During the trial the girl wept bitterly with the verdict reached that she should be detained in Borstal Institution for two years.

As for the other end of the social spectrum, on Wednesday, May 23, 1928 Miss Elizabeth Field, the daughter of the Reverend and Mrs Field, was presented by her aunt, Lady Coote, at his Majesty’s Court.

Continuing such social ascent she would marry the widowed husband of her mother’s sister, to live in style at a local country mansion, but, as always, that’s a tale for another day.

 

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