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Hesketh Rectory
Hesketh Bank
August 1944

My Dear Friends,
I am glad to be able to send you a message from the Methodist Minister Rev W B Barton this month, and at the same time I am sorry that this is probably the last one from him, as he is leaving the district shortly. He has been a good friend to us all, and we wish him God speed. Things are moving in the War and we are all full of hope. The Parish of Hesketh with Becconsall sends you its love and best of wishes.
Here are two promises of God, first for now, "The Lord shall give strength unto His people" and the second for the future from the same verse, "The Lord shall give His people the blessing of Peace".
Yours very sincerely,

Dear Friends,
As I expect to be leaving the district very shortly, I appreciate the kindness of the Rector in giving me the opportunity of a parting word. It will fall to my successor to welcome you home but you can be sure that, in thought, I will share in the rejoicings and will follow you with my best wishes. I suppose it is natural that I should be impressed by the fact of change in our life. I shall be leaving this place and the people I have come to know so well and will be off to new places; that - always on the move - carrying away the familiar and bringing in the new. The Bible knows all about this and reminds us of things that are temporal and those that are eternal. It exults in the fact that Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever and exhorts us to find in Him the treasures that are not subject to change and decay. We may pass from youth to age; from place to place; through all the varying moods and experience that this moving life brings to us and yet underneath it all the things of God abide - solid and lasting. You have set your affections upon these things, haven't you?
Yours sincerely,

Points from Letters.
Horace Hornby (June 29th) sends us his greetings from the high seas and particularly to Harold Cookson, Leslie Tiffin, and William Iddon of Chapel Road. He is very glad to hear that Tom Hurst is getting better.
Robert Sharples (June 25th) writes from the Far East and reports having been with his old school pal Eric Ashcroft for about five days. He says that Eric looks fit and well again.
Tom Hurst (July 10th) has written from Calderstones Hospital, Whalley. Better still, the Rector and Mrs Thorne were able to go and see him with his wife recently and to spend an enjoyable hour with him. He is in a very nice place, and is recovering well. He wishes to be remembered to Fred Taylor, Whitehead brothers, Fred Carr and Leslie Bramwell, also J W Parkinson who is doing his stuff with the flying bombs.
John Jackson (July 12th) is still on this side of the Channel and writes cheerily. He reports that Longton, his old home-parish has started a Newsletter.
Tom Brewer's May NL disappeared in a stolen mail, the first he has missed since we started. He is at present living in a desolate area on a small cliff overlooking the sea, the weather is very good, with blue skies and hot sun.
Frank Taylor (July 13th), North Wales) thanks us for what must be his first NL, and he wishes to be remembered to his mate David Rimmer and also to Cecil Cookson.
George Taylor (July 1st) received his June NL a couple of days after touching down in Normandy. Its late news was weeks in advance of some of his letters from home. Quite a number of Hesketh Lads are in Normandy, and he sends his greetings to Bill Iddon who is somewhere there. He wants also to tell Albert Taylor (India) that it won't be long before the widgeon are arriving in Hesketh again, and he looks forward to having a go with Albert. Also George's best wishes to Gordon Iddon, Martin Wright, Malcolm Taylor and Herbert Wignall. To Cecil Cookson, who is in Tank Training, he says that the British and American Tanks are doing a fine job in Normandy. The German 'Tigers' are lying about in heaps. Only let us, says George, get Jerry in the open and then will come the news. He sends congratulations to Bob Iddon on obtaining his RN Commission. George concludes by saying that "Marsh News" is a good tonic from home.

News from the Village.
Thomas Measham in a recent letter home says that not only has the Army made a gentleman of him, but he has actually learned to dance while in it. A friend of his at home wishes to advise Tom in the matter and says "Don't be too bashful and don't hold them too tight". Tom will not now have any excuses for not getting up to dance in the school.
A stack of hay belonging to Tommy Woodcock, farmer of Shore Side was completely destroyed by fire on Monday July 17th. Two fire brigades fought the fire for several hours and owing to their fine work the fire was prevented from spreading to a nearby fruit warehouse.
A grand show was held at Rufford on Saturday July 15th, the show including many fine horses and cattle, and we are proud to say our village brought off many prizes in the cattle line. Mr H Slinger winning eleven prizes out of fifteen. Mr John Coulton won a prize with his mare and colt. This is the first show to be held at Rufford for a very long time.
William Melling is home on a month's leave. He was married at Croston Providence Methodist Church on Monday 17th July to Bessie Catterall. Bill wishes to be remembered to Rigby Melling, Bert Miller, Tom Miller, Leslie Bramwell, Thomas Measham and all the other lads.
Edwin Taylor claims to have carted loads of hay nine 'lays' high this hay time. His 'reacher' was his uncle, Henry Taylor.
On July 10th Joseph Deacon was buried in Hesketh Churchyard. He was the son of Mr Robert Deacon, a former Churchwarden of Hesketh and has been for ten years Organist at St Ambrose, Leyland, having been formerly Organist of Hesketh. He was only 52. On the same day little Geoffrey Tiffin, Fred's boy, was buried in the same old Churchyard, aged 2 years. We were glad to be able to get Fred home, though he missed seeing his little boy alive. Fred was given a fortnight's leave.
Jeffrey Wright was wounded by a flying bomb in the London area. We hear he is going on well. Also William Carr has been wounded. Our sympathy goes out to all these families.
Last month we were congratulating Arthur Parkinson on his Reading University BSc. Since then he has been awarded the University Prize to degree Students in horticulture (1943-4) a much coveted distinction.
The Church Sunday School Tea Party and Sports took place on Saturday 22nd amid excellent weather, and the Council kindly mowed the field for us. It was a great success and small money prizes were in evidence. Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves, both inside and out.
Hesketh Lane Methodists held their Choir Festival on Sunday 9th July, when the preacher at morning and evening services was the Rev S G Janney of Preston. Mr Prowse of Sheffield was the soloist at the morning service. In the afternoon the choir gave an excellent rendering of Mendelssohn's "Hymn of Praise", to a keenly appreciative congregation., At the afternoon service the principals were Madame Newsham of Southport, Mrs Livesey of Banks and Mr E Bebbington of Southport. Mr A Waterhouse was the conductor and Mr L Sewell, organist. Mr Wright of Marshside was Chairman. The collections amounting to £18.15.9 were in aid of the Red Cross Prisoners of War Parcels Fund.
Rose Day Collections in the village for Preston Royal Infirmary amounted to £13.17.10. The collection was organised by Mr John Ashcroft and was carried out by Members of the Sunday School.
Hesketh Bank Chapel.
Choir Festival 2nd July. Preacher morning and afternoon: Rev R Armstrong of Ashton. Musical Service in the evening. "Creation's Praise" by Mr F W Peace, Organist Mrs W Iddon. Conductor Mr Joe Watkinson. Chairman Mr H Parkinson. Collections £46.2.6.
Young Farmers' Club.
The Hesketh Bank and Tarleton Young Farmers Club organised a most successful dance on Friday 14th July in aid of the Red Cross and St John Fund. Mr N Warburton and Mr Howarth of the Co-ordinating Committee of Preston District Agricultural Red Cross Effort, were present at the opening. The Stardusters Band provided the music and the catering was under the very capable management of the local WVS. The dance should add considerably to the popularity of this recently formed Club under its able officials Mr Kenneth Culshaw (Chairman) Mr J F Barton (Club Leader) and Miss M Eatough (Secretary). Raised £10.

The recent house -to-house collection for the British Sailors' Society amounted to £20 precisely. Last year (1943) we got £10.17.10, so it is a distinct advance, and nearer to the first year (1942) which brought in £23.10.0.

On Sunday, 9th July, Services were held in the Old Church where worship has been offered for hundreds of years. During the Middle Ages, when Hesketh and Becconsal were parts of the parish of Croston, services were conducted in Becconsall by the priest, who acted as Chaplain to the family at Becconsall Hall. In 1548 it was decided by the Duchy of Lancaster that the Chapel in connection with the Hall should continue and that Robert Smythe should serve the same and have for his wages yearly fifty six shillings and five pence. (This grant still forms part of the stipend of the Rectors of Hesketh - and so has been paid for nearly four hundred years).
In Tudor times Becconsall was a busy port; many ships sailed up the Douglas with the tide. Because of this traffic a branch of the Fleetwood family resided for a time at Hesketh, and William Fleetwood, who became Recorder of London in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, was born in the parish. The Fleetwoods must have been good business people because John Fleetwood of Hesketh Bank bought Penwortham Priory and its possessions from Queen Elizabeth for £3,088, and made the Priory his home.
The most treasured possession of the parish, the silver Chalice, which is still in use, bears the engraving 'Croston 1627', the third year of the reign of Charles I.
The Old Church was rebuilt and enlarged in 1765, and became a separate parish in 1821. In 1926 the new Church was consecrated and the Church at the bottom of the lane became once more Becconsall Chapel, though popularly and affectionately known as "The Old Church". The sum of £180 has recently been raised in a house-to-house collection through the parish for necessary repairs to the building. We desire to thank most heartily all those who contributed, and those who collected.

I am sitting at the foot of an old willow tree, which for many years has stood as a land mark on this beautiful marsh land of ours. It is late in the evening, and the golden sun is sinking behind the snow white clouds. What a beautiful sight it is, as it gradually sinks lower and lower, its golden rays stretching high into the blue night sky, and the clouds fringed by its lovely glow, it all creates a picture truly no artist can paint. It is in this grand setting, my friends, that once again I am going to try to paint another picture of home in your minds. The warm evening air is heavy with the smell of new mown hay, that mingled with the fragrance of the honeysuckle and the sweet scented bean flowers, has an aroma, which in a way seems to possess a charm, which holds you in its power, leaving you with a feeling of soft dreamy lovely contentment. As I look across the beautiful green fields, which seem to roll endlessly away in the distance, my gaze is attracted by a mist which is slowly coating the fields with a soft mantle of silvery haze. On and on it sweeps, driven as it were by some unseen hand, until everything as far as the eye can see is covered by its gossamer mantle. How peaceful everything is now, the lowing of a cow in a distant meadow, the shrill piping of a curlew that flies overhead; these are the only sounds that break the stillness of this perfect night. Moving from my seat I climb up the grassy embankment which stretches from the old church to the western outskirts of our village, and like an old Roman wall acts as protector, not from enemies, but from the over-flowing waters of the river, which we, in this village, are so proud of. I turn and look towards home, yes, there it is, bathed in the simmering light of the moon which by this time, hangs out of the blue heavens like a silver lamp. Looking at this enchanting scene for a short time, I can clearly see the smoke rising from an old chimney, lazily twisting and weaving its way high into the clear night sky. This, and the reflection of the moonlight, coming from the roofs of the homes which seem, from where I stand, to be huddled together, is a sight, which I am sure, must be very dear to all of you. Making my way slowly back to my seat, I paused for a short time to gaze at the old willow. There he stood, so silent, his great massive form bent as if in deep thought, and as I looked at him I thought, yes, under those leafy arms the cattle come for shelter from the hot sun and driving rain, yes and I am sure many are the tales that he could tell of happy lovers who had sat in his shade.
Taking the last few steps to my seat, I pull out my pipe and for a short time I allow my thoughts to wander back to the years before the war, when everything was gay and happy, when in the evenings, happy couples could be seen strolling along this same embankment. How much longer shall we have to wait, I wonder, before we shall be able to return to that way again. Well my friends, I do hope that it won't be long and I do hope that my little contribution to this Newsletter has in some way or another helped to bring a little of home into your minds

21st July

Since last I wrote, things have been going strong as far as work is concerned, for pea-picking and cauliflower cutting are now full time jobs. Cauliflowers especially have been coming in rather faster than they could be cut.
Taking it as a whole, the corn crop is very good-looking and is beginning to show signs of ripening. So this year, it should not be a late harvest.
After a slight set-back caused by the "invasion breezes", the potatoes are doing well.
Mushrooms have started to appear round the bank and so there has been some early rising going on. Going myself one morning in good time (so I thought) I found out on arriving that I was only an hour too late.
Fishing in the "outlets" isn't as good as it used to be for the snigs seem to be rather small and not so keen at biting as of old.
The salmon fishermen are catching a few fish now. Although there's still time to make good, the season hasn't yet been up to standard.
About the gulls which I referred to in the last letter, for six weeks in that period the tides never covered the marsh. This period enabled the gulls to hatch their eggs and to let the young ones become strong on their feet.
Did the gulls know that their nests would be clear from the tides for that period?

Here is some news for the ex-bandsmen. Mr Walter Tompkins, who is now the Secretary of the Band, sends on behalf of all the band, best wishes to all ex-bandsmen. The Band is booked up for the whole summer, beginning the summer season by playing for Croston in May.
Of the total membership of twenty five there are now fifteen members, but they still turn up to practices as before. One night when they turned up as usual in the Back Lane School, they found to their horror that previous visitors had used all their music stands for firewood, and since that night they have had to hold their music copies in their hands. We wonder how the BB holds copy!

PS From the Rector.

I am enclosing a special Message from our Bishop, together with a prayer which you will like to use. Our people here are using the same prayer at home. APT.

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