Private Arthur Watson

FH 5 LincBdgePrivate Arthur Waston 202487
2nd/4th Territorial Battalion
Lincolnshire Regiment
Killed-in-Action 26 September 1917
Dochy Farm, Passchendaele

Watson Port
Family Background

Arthur Watson was born in Corby in 1880 the son of John Thomas and Fanny Christina Watson. John Thomas was a General Labourer born in Marston in 1850 and came to Corby around 1875. He married Fanny C Harrison in 1876 at Kirkby Underwood and their children were James Harrison, Mary, Arthur, Sarah and Emily. The family lived for many years in Stonepit Terrace that lay beyond the Woodhouse Arms stretching from the Bourne to the Swinstead road.

Arthur grew up in Corby and became a General Labourer like his father.  He married Mary Maria Falkener of Bourne; a daughter Ivy was born in 1909 and a son Raymond A F Watson followed in 1910.  Arthur’s obituary stated that he and Mary had a third child.  In 1911 the family are recorded living at Edenham and his obituary also mentions that he had worked on the Grimsthorpe estate for a number of years

Private Arthur Watson 202487 Military Service

Although Arthur’s service papers did not survive, a great deal can be learnt from those of Private James Booles 202475 of Ewerby who also served in the 2nd/4th Battalion.   During registration in August 1915 James was age 35, married with 2 children similar to Arthur who was also 35, married with 3 children. James attested on 10 Dec 1915 and was placed on the Army Reserve the following day. He would have received a day’s pay for the 10th and then returned home. He was mobilised on 7 August 1916 and after training joined the 2nd/4th Battalion in February 1917(3). This pattern fits the Derby scheme even though it became defunct following the Military Service Act so it’s highly likely that both men originally attested in December 1915 under the Derby Scheme.

The 1st/4th had gone to France in 1915 whilst the 2nd/4th continued recruiting and split into the 2nd/4th and 3rd/4th. In spring of 1916 the 2nd/4th were about to go to go overseas when the Easter Uprising took place and instead of France the Battalion found itself in action on the streets of Dublin. The Battalion remained in Ireland until January 1917 when it returned to England where it was brought up to full strength and commenced its final training.

It arrived in France in February as part of 177 Brigade of the 59th (North Midland) Division. Due to its inexperience the Division did not take part in the Battle of Arras but remained to the south on the Somme. It was not until September that it took part in its first major battle. On 20 September the Division joined the Fifth Army that was now fighting in the north of the Salient. Initially the Battalion was held in reserve but on the 24th it entered the Salient moving into reserve trenches near Wieljt.

Ypres 26 Final (1)The Attack by 177 Brigade  26 September 1917

The war diary(4) records that 2 companies were immediately allocated to working parties. The previous ‘Battle of Menin Road’ on 20 September had been a major success; the workload that followed was enormous to move hundreds of guns into position, improve roads, construct tramways and take forward ammunition. Up to 300 tons of wooden planking went forward each night to construct the walkways and gun platforms. Miles of cables were laid to ensure communication to the new frontline would function. The “Bite” had only been 3000m, about half the expectation in July, but the ground was devastated and it was 6 days before they were ready for the next battle.

The Battle took its name from the ‘Bois de Polygone’ between Gheluvelt and Zonnebeke. This wood changed hands 6 times during the course of the war and by 1917 it had been reduced to shattered stumps; it was the objective of the ANZACs fighting with the Second Army. The army boundary was just south of the ruined Ypres-Zonnebeke-Roulers railway. The Fifth Army was to the north and the Second Army the south. 59 Div was between the railway and the Wieljt-Gravenstafel road. 177 Brigade on the right and 178 the left. The distance for 177 Bde to the final objective was about 1000m and the frontage about 600m. The frontage for the 2nd/4th Lincolns only 230m.

2:4 Attack

The ground rises gently before falling away towards a stream but to the naked eye appears flat; numerous German concrete shelters dotted the area (shown in red/by squares on the map above). The majority were shelters set deep into the ground; access was via a trench to the rear that would stretch just as far as the fighting positions for the garrisons. The photograph below shows the rear of a shelter at a German strongpoint at Bayernwald near Wytschaete on Messines ridge. The strongpoint with 4 shelters and a localized trench system is preserved by the Passchendaele museum Zonnebeke. It similar in size to ‘The Snag’ shown on the map in square 20 and the group to the east of Dochy farm. Access to the site can be gained via the Tourist Information centre in Kemmel and is a must for the visitor to the salient.

Bay Bunk copyGerman Shelter at the Bayernwald strongpoint, Wytschaete, Belgium

 Only about 50cm of the shelter extends above ground level and that would be hidden by debris, weeds etc. With the dust and smoke from a barrage it could easily be missed and the garrison emerge to fire on the attackers after they had passed. The shelters on the map were identified in the Brigade operation order and specific sections detailed to locate and deal with the garrison. The entrance was low down and a man would have to crouch down to pass through, the space inside was intentionally cramped as the enemy did not want the garrison loitering inside when the fighting started. The trench top right led to a MG position. The second photograph shows the trenches in the strongpoint restored using original construction methods. The trenches were revetted with wood rather like hurdles as the enemy did not have the same access to raw materials as the allies.

Bay Tr copyReconstructed trenches in the Bayernwald strongpoint

As a new unit the Lincolns had not experienced the failed attacks of the Somme and Arras and must have been heartened when the barrage opened at 3:50am and tore into the German defences. Their sister Bn the 2nd/5th were on their left and at 5:50am they rose up and went forward following the 2nd/4th & 2nd/5th Leicesters who were the vanguard.

The attack formation that had evolved was a loosely spaced line of men moving abreast close behind (about 40m) the barrage followed by sections (14 men) in file. When a strongpoint was encountered the formation would move around it and reform whilst it was dealt with by the sections coming on behind. For once the wire had been cut and the ground was baked dry throwing up dust that screened the advancing troops. The Leicesters made good progress and achieved their objective (the red line) by Zero+ 59min. As the Leicesters dug-in, the Lincolns arrived and took what shelter they could as they waited for Zero+ 100min when it started to move again. It was an uncomfortable time as the German retaliatory barrage started to fall beyond the stationary barrage and the men were keen to get moving.

On time the advance continued the barrage moving at 90m/8min (100yds/8mins) until once again it became stationary whereupon the Lincolns dug-in. The German garrison at Dochy Farm put up a fight until surrounded when the garrison of 50 surrendered. Elsewhere the garrisons surrendered after a token resistance. The report on the action by the 2nd/4th is missing from their war diary. The 2nd/5th report states that their support company consolidated a line close to the road whilst the attack companies established a post in Dochy farm and another to the northwest(5). On 4 Oct the New Zealand Div started the battle of Broodseinde from the road and Dochy Farm lay under the opening barrage. Therefore it would appear that the 2nd/4th also consolidated a line along the Zonnebeke road between Dochy and Van Isackere Farms. This area can be viewed immediately beyond the southeast wall of Dochy Farm New Military cemetery.

The 2nd/4th had 1 officer and 36 men killed, 10 officers and 144 men wounded and 18 men missing. The Bn was relieved on 27 September by the 2nd/4th Leicesters. Arthur was among the dead of 26th September and has no known grave. His name is recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial Wall amongst 34,887 other missing soldiers. The memorial designed by Sir Herbert Baker is a curved wall to represent the shape of the salient. It has a domed pavilion at each end and 2 rotundas with a central apse. The north rotunda lists the names of the Lincolnshire Regiment

TyneCott N WallThe northern end of Tyne Cot memorial wall. The entrance to the rotunda is halfway along the wall.

Lincs Panel copyInside the northern rotunda. The Lincolnshire tablet with Arthur Watson’s name is above the wreath and shown inset. The Cross of Sacrifice can be seen through the colonnade.

There are nearly 12,000 graves in the adjacent cemetery of which about 8,500 are unknown soldiers. The headstones with their small descriptions “a Corporal, a Scottish soldier, an Australian” etc. tell the tale of the state of the battlefield that was fought over on 2 further occasions before the war ended.

After Arthur’s death Mary Maria re-married George F Chester of Bourne in 1919. Arthur’s son Raymond died at Wellingborough in 1973.

1.  CWGC
2. Grantham Journal
4.  2nd/4th Battalion War Diary held at the National Archives WO 95/3023/2
5   2nd/5th Battalion War Diary held at the National Archives WO 95/3023/4


Private William Warren Cupit

FH 5 LincBdge William Warren Cupit 1434
Lance Corporal
2nd Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment
Died-of-Wounds 16 September 1917
Prowse Point, near Messines

Cupitt port John Warren was a carpenter born in Corby in 1796. In 1841 he and his wife Jane were living in Long (High) Street with their daughter Anne. Also in Long Street was William Nichols a Blacksmith born in Corby in 1813. William Nichols married Anne Warren and amongst other children they had a daughter Elizabeth Nichols b.1844 and 2 sons William and Warren.

The Cupit family had a hard start in life, in 1851 widow Elizabeth Cupit can be found in the Poorhouse Bingham, Nottingham with 4 children under 10. One of these was Thomas Cupit who in 1868 came to Corby and married Elizabeth Nichols. They settled in Church Street where they lived for over 50 years. Thomas was a labourer and later a plate layer on the railway when it arrived at Corby.

Thomas and Elizabeth had 6 children of whom William Warren Cupit was the youngest son born on 13 February 1885. William grew up in Corby and tried his hand at a number of trades at times a baker, a coal merchant’s clerk and village postman. On 2 August 1909 he married Catherine Mary Cocks from Irnham daughter of Mary Ellis and Peter Cocks.

Mary Ellis lived in London where her first husband worked in Middlesex Hospital. He contracted smallpox and died leaving Mary and her two sons. She came to Irnham to be a personal maid to Lady Gordon at Irnham Hall where she met and married a gamekeeper, Peter Cocks in 1876. Catherine Mary grew up in Irnham with her 2 stepbrothers John T and Charles W Ellis and her younger brother George Henry Cocks.

Cupit Postman

Left: William in his Postman livery (Photo Phil Cupit)

After their marriage at St Mary’s RC church Corby, William and Catherine settled in the High Street where Kathleen Mary Elizabeth, b.1911 and Anne Mary Monica b.1913 were born. William volunteered on 6 April 1915, by then the army had increased the upper age limit beyond 30 as the initial surge of recruits declined. William was initially posted to the 10th (S) Grimsby Chum’s Battalion (Bn). The initial hope of forming a Battalion just from Grimsby had not been realized and it was now made up to strength with recruits from all over the county.

William and another Corby man, Frank Podam, were sent to Brocklesby Camp to undergo training. However what William may not have realized when he enlisted was that Catherine was pregnant with their third child. William Henry was born on 4 November 1915. This may account for William’s transfer to the 11th Battalion whilst the 10th joined 34 Division and went out to France.

Cupit Broklesby Camp

Spud-bashing at Brocklesby 1915, William is top right (Photo Phil Cupit)

William’s time came soon enough; heavy losses meant that the 11th Bn assumed a training reserve role and its men were supplied to Battalions already at the front. On 1 July 1916 the 2nd Lincolns had 463 casualties at Ovillers during the ‘First Day of the Somme’. It was part of the 8th Division that had suffered 5,121 casualties, about 50% and was temporarily withdrawn to rebuild.

William was posted overseas 9 July 1916 and joined the 2nd Lincolns on 4 August 1916. On arrival in France in July, William would have completed 2 weeks final training at Étaples. Étaples was a vast military area consisting of many establishments and camps just south of Boulogne (see map above). It consisted of 2 main areas, a northern area of hospitals and staff accommodation and a southern area of infantry base depots and training grounds. At the latter, the instructors wore yellow armbands and were nicknamed canaries, however it belied the reputation they had for harshness and strict discipline. In 1917 a mutiny broke out that took several days to bring under control. Soldiers had mixed views on “Eat-apples” or “The Bull-ring” as it came to be known and many myths surround its history. However the reality was that there was just 2 weeks to prepare recruits for an unforgiving environment beyond their imagination where a mistake could cost them or their comrades their lives.

By 8 October 1916 the Div were back in action on the Somme. William’s first taste of warfare was the Le Transloy Ridge on 23 October, another fateful day for the 2nd Bn. It went into action with 16 officers and 470 men, the 4 companies were led by Capt A H W Burton, 2nd Lts J B Drysdale, C W Spicer and H W Coneybeare. The casualties were 13 officers and 272 men of whom all 4 Company Commanders died.

William survived that first baptism of fire and the following year on 31st July was with the Battalion waiting near Hellfire Corner in the Ypres Salient. 2 years before Tom Linford had stood in the same area waiting with the 1st Bn to attack the Bellewarde ridge just north of Hooge. Now the 2nd Bn, part of 25 Brigade (Bde), were to pass over the same ground to the first objective the Westhoek ridge and reach the Hanebeek stream just short of Polygon Wood.

Pilkem Ridge 31 July 1917 – 2nd Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment

Ypres 31 July (1)

The battle commenced at 03.50am. The 8th Division attack was on the southern side of the battlefield starting astride the Menin Road west of Hooge. The 23rd Bde was on the left of the road and the 24th the right with the 25th following up. The attack went in an ENE direction, 24 Bde crossed the road near Hooge. By 07:00 all of 25 Bde were on the move with the Lincolns on the right, 1st Royal Irish Rifles (1/RIR) in the centre, 2nd Rifle Brigade (2/RB) on the left and 2nd Berkshire (2/Berks) in reserve.

24 Bde reached the Westhoek ridge but could not clear the houses or the summit as 30 Div on the right were held up. This meant that the enemy, still in possession of Glencourse and Nonneboschen woods, could enfilade the ridge. Brig-Gen Coffin of 25 Bde had reached the ridge in advance of his Brigade. He assigned a company to cover the right flank and at 10:10 the Bde attack went in. By now the CO, Adjutant and other officers of the Lincolns were wounded and 2nd Lt Young assumed command of the Lincolns. Short of their start line they were already behind their protective barrage which to make matters worse fell behind the enemy facing them. As they moved further forward the fire from the woods now came from behind them and unable to move on the remnants fell back and dug-in on the west side of the ridge. The centre company of 1/RIR reached the Hanebeek but without the Lincolns in place the enemy started to work around their right and they were forced to withdraw.

Throughout the afternoon the Bde was subjected to heavy counter-attacks and at one stage the Lincolns were forced back only to re-form and retake their original position. Gen Coffin was everywhere to be seen, bringing up ammunition himself and encouraging his now depleted Bde until it was relieved. The Lincolns left at 05:00 on the 1st August having suffered 42 dead, 183 wounded and 27 missing.

On 16 August the much-reduced Bde was back in the positions it had held on the 1st. The Lincolns were able to field 11 officers and 300 men. At 04.45 The Battle of Langemark commenced. After a promising start the Bde was once again outflanked and came close to being entirely cut-off. Forced back and then heavily counter-attacked the Lincolns as Bde reserve were called forward to help stem these attacks. At one stage only the appearance of the Brig-Gen amongst them stopped one Battalion from collapsing under the onslaught. The new line, just a few hundred metres on the east side of Westhoek ridge, was held but the Bde was now exhausted. The Lincolns were withdrawn on 18 August having suffered a further 31 killed, 107 wounded and 36 missing.

8 Div were moved south to Messines to rest and rebuild. On 14 September the London Gazette promulgated the award of the Victoria Cross to Brig-Gen Clifford Coffin DSO. 2nd Lt Young was awarded the DSO. William Cupit was promoted Lance Corporal unpaid 1 Sep 1917 and about this time returned home for a period of leave. A soldier could expect one period of leave each year of duration from 4 days upwards depending on circumstances. These might be the distance to be travelled that came out of the allocated period, time since last leave granted, family circumstances, employment of the Battalion etc. 4 days would generally guarantee a soldier 2 days at home. This was an opportunity for William to see his son William Henry now almost 2 years old.

16 September 1917 Prowse Point, Messines

On 12 September the Lincolns moved into the front line near Warneton. 3kms back from the frontline William had been put in charge of a small arms and grenade ammunition dump at Prowse Point. The point just on the north side of Ploegsteert Wood was where Major Charles Prowse and the 1st Somerset Light Infantry had stopped the German advance in October 1914. The Major subsequently became a Brig-Gen and was killed on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Somme.

Prowse Point had remained in British hands ever since and no-mans-land had been in the field about 200m north. On 25 December 1914 the field was a scene of peace as the soldiers of both sides exchanged pleasantries and gifts. On 7 June the field had shuddered as a deep mine exploded under the German line on its far side; just one of 19 mines that opened the Battle of Messines. Now Prowse Point was ‘well to the rear’. A small cemetery marked the presence of a field ambulance aid post, and within a few metres a dugout and ammunition dump. In the fields and wood around were batteries of field guns.

The Battalion war diary records between 12-17 September “Demonstrations were carried out to draw the enemy’s attention from coming operations near YPRES”. These could involve the sudden bombardment of the enemies front line accompanied by a MG barrage, firing of Very lights and raising and lowering dummies on the British parapet and in no-man’s-land. The latter termed a ‘Chinese attack’. Designed to keep the enemy guessing and tie down his troops it was not favoured by the units asked to carryout the attack as it all too often provoked a swift bombardment from the enemies artillery.

Cupit Cross (1)

Above: Original grave photograph as sent to Catherine Cupit.

The 25 Bde War Diary records “ 16 September. Enemy shelling set light to a smoke bomb and grenade dump at Prowse Point causing casualties to the extent of 1 man killed 7 wounded.” Such was the lottery of life on the Western Front that a soldier could survive even the fiercest battle only to be found by a shell burst well away from the line. William died of wounds at the aid post and was buried in the cemetery with 2 other men, 2 more died at Casualty Clearing Stations to the rear. Today, a memorial to the Christmas Truce has been constructed alongside the cemetery; the ammunition dump was at the far end of the car parking area.

On 8 April 1918 Catherine was awarded a ‘Wife’s pension of 26s 3p a week’. Catherine found life difficult even with the war widow’s pension. She was left with a family of three children, the eldest of which was 6, and Catherine was known to take in washing and sewing to supplement her pension. Daughter Anne died age 8 in 1921. Catherine died on the eve of her son William Henry’s 19th birthday.

There is no family history through William Warren’s son William Henry and his grandson Philip regarding family contact with William Warren’s other siblings. Rev Fairbrother in St John’s church had christened William Warren and all his siblings but William Warren had married Catherine Cocks, a catholic in St. Mary’s R.C. Church, Corby Glen. William Henry never mentioned his uncles and aunts to his children and they remained unknown to Philip and his siblings until family research proved their existence later in life. William Warren’s grand-children now wonder if their grandfather and his extended family became separated due to family differences over their places of worship.


Sources & Acknowledgements:

Family background and photographs – Phil Cupit, son of William Henry and grandson of William Warren Cupit
National Census –
The History of the Lincolnshire Regt 1914-18 – Maj-Gen C R Simpson, CB.
25th Infantry Brigade War Diary WO 95/1727   – National Archives
2nd Battalion Lincolnshire Regt War Diary WO 95/1730/1 – National Archives
VCs of the First World War, Passchendaele – Stephen Snelling
Ypres & the Battles of Ypres – Michelin &Cie., Clermont-Ferrand












Somme Commemorative Service

Battle of the Somme Commemoration Service

Somme Church 1A service was held at St John’s Church Corby Glen at 7:30pm on the 1st July to remember the nine men from the Benefice who lost their lives in the Battle of the Somme. The service was well attended with representation from across the Benefice. As well as remembering the men who lost their lives in the 141-day battle, prayers were said for all who have served and who continue to serve in our Armed Forces.

The Reverend Stephen Buckman gave a short biography of the soldiers before leading the congregation in the act of remembrance. After each biography a candle was lit for each soldier listed below:

L/Cpl Alfred Houghton      2/Lincolns        1 July       Thiepval Memorial
Pte Percy Chamberlain      2/Lincolns        1 July       Lonsdale cemetery
Pte George Asher              10/Lincolns        1 July      Thiepval Memorial
L/Cpl Thomas Allen            1/Lincolns       2 July      Thiepval Memorial
Lt Lionel Abbott                 7/Leicesters   14 July       Flatiron Copse
L/Cpl Tom Stanton  16/Royal Warwicks   27 July     Thiepval Memorial
Pte Earnest Clark                 1/Bedfords      5 Sept     Delville Wood
Pte ‘Henry’ Wass                 8/Lincolns      14 Sept   Ovillers cemetery
Pte Edward Clark 6/Durham Light Infantry 5 Nov Warlencourt cemetery

As part of the service Mick Franklin gave a very moving rendition of the poem “His Mate” by the the WW1 Chaplain Reverend Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, better known to the troops as “Woodbine Willie”.

The Queen’s Birthday Big Lunch – 12th June 2016

The Queen’s Birthday Big Lunch was held in Corby Market Place on Sunday 12th June. The weather was challenging but the event was able to go ahead with the aid of some cover with gazebos! Many thanks to the Corby Christmas Tree Fund., who organised the event.

The Big Lunch was followed by Songs of Praise at st John’s Church, in celebration of Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th Birthday.

Big Lunch 2016





Version 2








Manspreading, Wine o’clock and Awesomesauce?

Every year, and sometimes more than once a year, the Oxford English Dictionary releases a list of the new words that have been added to its august, learned and respected pages. I was really surprised to find that it was only in 2015 that the word ‘declutter’, as a noun, a verb, and almost every other part of speech, was added to the OED.

‘Decluttering’ has been a major feature of our family life since the middle of last year. It was almost as though, with the news that we would be moving from Sussex to Lincolnshire, and the beginning of all that inevitable ‘decluttering’, the OED decided to give the process that was about to dominate our lives its very own endorsement.

Of course, ‘declutter’ was not the only new word to be added to the OED in August 2015. There was also ‘manspreading’, ‘cupcakery’, ‘wine o’clock’ and ‘awesomesauce’. As I write this, I am desperately trying to think of a way in which these words could be used to improve and enhance my way of communicating with the people I meet every day.

When I travel on public transport I often encounter ‘manspreading’ (apparently, this is the way that men (!) spread out on a seat that is meant for two people so that they do not have to share the space). However, I struggle to think of a reason why such rudeness and selfishness needs to be dignified with a special word of its own.

I am not sure why I would ever want to describe a bakery that produces cup-cakes as a ‘cupcakery’, although I can think of the odd time when the phrase ‘wine o’clock’ might be useful!

I wonder if anyone has any idea what the last of the new words in my list means? ‘Awesomesauce’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of the gravy you may be pouring over your roast dinner, nor is it a description of the latest culinary trend to emerge from the kitchens of all those celebrity chefs that grace our televisions. No! ‘Awesomesauce’ is simply another word for ‘excellent’.

It seems strange that my curiosity to discover when the word ‘declutter’ entered the English language led me down such cluttered and unnecessary by-ways.

Of course, there is nothing new about this level of obfuscation! It is so much easier for us to wrap things up in fancy language than to acknowledge the reality of our lives in simple (and frankly honest) terms.

In St Luke’s gospel we read of the call of Levi the tax collector. Two thousand years ago, the Roman Empire used local collaborators as vehicles for raising the funds they needed to finance their occupation of much of the known world. Those tax collectors were the pariahs of the societies in which they lived and worked. They would definitely have been guilty of ‘manspreading’ if there had been such a thing as public transport. However, in just two verses of Luke’s gospel, we read of how someone who had definitely taken the wrong path through life turned all of that around.

Luke tells us that Jesus said to Levi: “Follow me.” Then we are told: “He got up, left everything, and followed him.”

Now isn’t that the ultimate example of ‘decluttering’ one’s life? There are no long and fancy words, no new words had to be invented. There was no rushing to the ‘cupcakery’ to get a few provisions for the journey, and no need to wait until ‘wine o’clock’ to find the strength to follow that ‘awesomesauce’ call from Jesus.

On 15th May the Church will be celebrating the Feast of Pentecost (it used to be called ‘Whitsun’). The Church will be remembering the moment when God sent his Holy Spirit to strengthen and guide us on our journeys through this life. The Holy Spirit did not come with a load of fancy trappings. The Holy Spirit came ‘pre-decluttered’ as a beacon to guide us into the life that God calls us all to lead.

I pray that you will find the strength to declutter all that stops you living your lives to the full, in the strength of God’s Holy Spirit. Amen.

Revd Stephen Buckman

Stella’s May

Button to chin till May be in,
Cast not a clout till May be out.
[Best wait!]

If you change in June you change too soon,
Change in July? You’ll catch cold bye and bye.
Change in August if you must,
But be sure to remember, change back in September!

The ancient sages were nothing if not pessimistic, and who can blame them, the weather lately has change from one hour to another!

One saying I have found, as I said earlier, very reliable So many fogs in March, so many frosts in May. So watch out, for March has had many mists and fogs, some in the first weeks when Buchan has a cold spell: 9 – 14th May.

On a cheerful note – When Mulberry tree begins to shoot, the last frost has gone. Have you a mulberry tree?
(There are Mulberry trees in the gardens of Grimsthorpe Castle – Ed)

May, the month of flowers – yellow buttercups, cowslips, dandelions, laburnum, blue speedwell, ground ivy, bluebells, dog violets. The horse chestnut pyramids of bloom, may blossom, apple and cherry blossom, mountain ash, lilac all scent the air.

The second Sunday was Chestnut Sunday when the horse chestnut trees were in bloom. This was celebrated by the Quakers in memory of the Pilgrim Fathers. In Lincolnshire, we have Tulip Sunday and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is 24th – 28th May.

I miss my walks in the woods and fields but it is amazing what you can see from the kitchen window. My long garden is full of wild life occasionally disturbed by cats or my dog, but the birds seem to understand the dog will not hurt them and ignore her completely, feeding within feet of her.

I have a flock of sparrows – about twenty which swoop in twice a day for food, they love sunflower hearts. This morning, I watched a tiny mouse which came to feed under the feeder.

Later, what I thought was a mouse turned out to be a wren amidst the snowdrops in the border. I am sure we have far more wrens in our gardens than we ever see.

If I am late feeding the birds, a robin comes to the window to remind me! It sits on the dustbin under the window looking in!

I have a pair of robins although I cannot tell the male from the female as their plumage is the same. Sometimes they come together to feed. One morning she fluffed out her feathers whilst he serenaded her. His head was held back, all his feathers were flattened and his tail elevated so that the tip pointed forward.

He sang and sang, swaying to and fro. His audience stood motionless and watched. Then he fed her with some mealworms from the feeder.

Robins do nest each year in my garden. The maximum recorded lifespan of the robin in the wild is eleven years, so although few achieve anything like that, I hope “my” robins will be around for a few more years.

Blackbirds also nest in my garden only yards away from my window in a jasmine shrub on a wall.

What a dull world it would be without our birds and their songs.

This is the weather the cuckoo likes,
And so do I!
When showers betumble the chestnut spikes
And nestlings fly
Thomas Hardy

May 2nd and 30th are the two Bank Holidays this month, so I hope the weather is kind especially then.

We have a new moon on the 6th and a full moon on the 21st May. May 5th is Ascension Day and May 15th is Whit Sunday or Pentecost. Trinity Sunday follows on May 22nd.

Gardens now demand our time and lawns require regular mowing. How good it is to be out and active, but also to find time to sit in the peaceful surroundings of nature and relax.

When did you first see this year swallows, swifts, house martins or butterflies or hear the cuckoo??

Lighting the beacon in Corby Glen for HM The Queen’s 90th Birthday

On 21st April, Corby Glen marked the Queen’s 90th birthday with a beacon lighting ceremony on the village green. Residents gathered at the Church Street Rooms for sparkling wine and birthday cake, before processing up to the beacon. Reverend Stephen Buckman addressed the crowd, including a message from Clarence House, regarding the Queen’s birthday. This was followed by the beacon being lit, assisted by two members of the 1st Corby Glen Beavers, Cubs & Scouts Group. It was good to have the Corby fire crew there who are looking for new recruits to join the team.


Clarence House - birthday announcement










HM Queen’s 90th Birthday Beacon Lighting – Corby Glen

You will probably have seen coverage of plans to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday on 21st April, with over 1,000 beacons being lit across the country. Corby Glen will be part of that chain – see attached poster.

This will be the third time the beacon has been lit – it will be great to see as many people there as possible to join in with this national chain of beacons!