‘This project considers the impact of WW1 upon rural communities in the UK by looking at the changes brought about in Hempsted, a small village in Gloucestershire. Our project aims to ‘hone in’ on our local area to explore, conserve and share the lives of people on the Home Front between 1914 and 1918.
We intend to use activities that schools engaged in during WW1, along with the charitable/voluntary war work, agriculture, food production and preservation that occurred, in order to discover what life was like for the residents of our village. This project builds upon the interest and enthusiasm generated by a highly successful, although much smaller scale and unfunded, WW1 project that took place last year and was led by a member of staff from Hempsted C of E Primary School and an individual within the local community. With the help of a group of selected Key Stage 2 pupils, they conducted research into the lives of all the soldiers whose names appear on the war memorial within our local churchyard. Their efforts culminated in a fantastic exhibition, held both in St. Swithun’s Church and the Lysons Hall during the Gloucester History Festival and Heritage Open Days weekend, which was enjoyed by numerous individuals. A folder of their research findings has also been given to the Gloucestershire Family History Society and there is currently discussion about adding the information to St. Swithun’s Church’s website.
An informal meeting of representatives from several local groups and the school was held in early January 2015 to discuss a subsequent project. Not only did this clearly confirm that our community wishes to understand more about the heritage of WW1, but also for a wide range of people to benefit. Whilst last years’ initiative was dependent on the school undertaking research and the findings later displayed for the whole village to see, this project aims to include various parties in our exploration of WW1, namely current, and former, pupils and staff at Hempsted C of E Primary School, as well as members of Hempsted’s Garden Club, the WI, Artists’ Group, St. Swithun’s Church and its affiliated groups, like Coffee Pot, Open the Book and Messy Church. It is anticipated that each group will have a specific part to play. A cross- curricular day delivered in school will kick-start further activities scheduled to span the rest of week and time beyond. By involving school children in the project, their families will, hopefully, be keen to discover more, and, through the support of retirees, like Don Stockwell and Terry Stevenson, editors of the Hempsted Parish Magazine, greater village involvement will be encouraged.
To date, we have uncovered a number of objects, photographs, documents, newspaper and magazine articles that have revealed some wonderful stories from our community and individuals who were either involved in, or affected by, the war. We aim to extend our community’s knowledge and understanding of life in Hempsted during WW1 by investigating these further.’
If you wish to be involved in any way or feel you have some valuable evidence to share, then feel free to contact Mr Richard Waller, Headteacher at Hempsted C of E Primary School, (firstname.lastname@example.org), who will forward the relevant details onto me, or simply add a ‘comment’ below.