Ogbourne St Andrew History Group
Annual General Meeting: held Thursday May 9th 2019, 7.30pm St. Andrew’s Church
1. Apologies for Absence
John & Janice Hetherington, Ian & Marion Gordon-Finlayson; Alexander Kirk Wilson, Tony Leach, Isabel Kingston, Liz Turner
There were 14 Members present
2. Acceptance of last year’s AGM minutes
The previous year’s AGM minutes, having been previously circulated and posted on the website, were accepted unanimously following a brief resume by the Chairman.
3. Chairman’s Report
Limiting the number of talks and avoiding meeting in the church during the winter months seems not to have affected the number of members unduly. To counteract the lack of talks, information has been provided on a quarterly basis of local societies’ activities. The switch to meetings on the second Thursday at 7.30pm has also been implemented.
Visits: A proposed visit to Wolf Hall failed to materialise due to building works on the site. A new attempt is being made to organise a visit next summer (i.e. 2020).
Talks: David Sherratt presented the first talk in October with “The English Civil Wars – Brexit with shot and swords.” Dressed in period costume David gave an informative and immersive experience with members of our Group proclaiming from a period broadsheet the iniquities of the Royalist assault on Marlborough. The involvement of the Ogbournes was covered. A thoroughly enlightening and entertaining evening. This April saw Bob Lloyd reveal the workings of the Remount organisation in WW1. Hundreds of thousands of horses and mules were required by the armed forces and Bob recounted the discovery of a cache of papers relating to the Purton Remounts. There was a similar operation here at Maisey. Nick Baxter will present the third talk (The Anarchy) after the AGM.
Archaeology: July saw a very successful “Community Archaeology” weekend with displays and demonstrations from professional archaeologists. Members of the History Group and general public attended, as did a group of Young Archaeologists. Unfortunately a primary objective, analysing the finds from the west paddock was not achieved and with the breakup of the Forensic Institute at Shrivenham we are still waiting for that exercise to be carried out. Until then the writing up of the last four years dig in the paddock cannot be completed. However a new project was initiated in September, namely a detailed examination of the bronze age barrow in the churchyard. A licence from Historic England was obtained, John Samways, an independent geophysicist, offered his services and a resistivity and topographical survey started. The first step, involving the whole community, was clearing the barrow of fallen trees, shrubs and weeds. A grand finale of shifting all the cuttings attracted over 30 people! The surveys are still on-going but Historic England have placed the barrow on the “At Risk” register and this has led to the possibility of funding to remove dangerous trees and re-seeding the barrow. We will be presenting a talk later in the year to present our findings.
Church History: All copies have been sold and the profits (£71) donated to the church. Four copies were requested by the Local Studies section of Swindon History Centre for distribution to local libraries.
Information Panel: This has been brought to a successful conclusion, with a grant from the North Wessex Downs Sustainable Development Fund. Members of the History Group designed and set out the board details, which was unveiled last Saturday. Our thanks to Sue Parry for initiating the idea, Jane Fox and Margaret Matthews for the design and proofing, Roger Harris for checking historic accuracy and Jim Winchcombe for erecting the board. Working on the barrow we have been surprised at the number of passing visitors who stop to enquire about the church or barrow, which underlines the need for the information board.
An increasing emphasis these days is on “Heritage”. In applying for grants and even the licence to investigate the barrow it has been noticeable that there has been a requirement to show that any project reflects and promotes aspects of heritage and is of benefit to the wider community. Historic England, for example, were impressed by the various projects this Group have completed with the involvement of the community and it helped immeasurably in opening up the possibility of obtaining grant funding for the removal of diseased and dangerous trees on the barrow. Of wider note have been the various requests from individuals to visit the church to inspect specific memorials: the nine times great granddaughter of Anne Seymour (nee Goddard); the group of Liddiard descendants who arrived by coach; the two Northern Irish students looking for Obadiah Sedgwick’s grave (and the group of Dutchmen with the same mission); and many more. It would seem that there is a strong need to have the church open (or easily available access) – something we should pass onto the PCC.
Website: The last year saw a total of 13,300 “hits”, 50% from the USA, 25% from the EU. Amazingly 53% were via mobiles and 47% from desktops. There was a steady stream of e-mail enquiries all relating to family queries.
Finances: These are in still good shape and the committee has recommended holding the annual fee at £10. It is proposed to continue the limit of three talks this year, and to arrange a couple of self funding visits to interesting local sites.
Meeting Date: having moved the meeting day to the second Thursday of the month, there still seems to be an issue with suggestions that a Wednesday would be a better choice, with more people free on that day. The feeling of the meeting was that meeting day should be moved back to the third Wednesday and that the wider membership should be polled on the change.
The following changes do appear to have been successful however:
1. the start time having been shifted to 7.30pm
2. the talk cycle held in the period April – October to avoid the cold and discomfort of the church during the winter months
Bruce Fox May 2019
The Chairman’s report was accepted unanimously.
4. Financial Report:
opening balance: 183.49
excess of income / expenditure 2018 / 2019 78.43
available funds 261.92
current balance (cash + bank) 17/04/19 331.92
less o/s commitments talk 40.00
church hire 2 x £15 30.00 ( 70.00) 261.92
Alex Matthews Hon Treasurer
Proposed Budget 2019 / 2020
Speakers 3 x £50.00 150.00
Church hire 3 x £15.00 45.00
Web fees 40.00
total expenditure 235.00
Expected membership fees 23 x £10.00 230.00
possible budgetshortfall (5.00)
The Hon Treasurer’s report was accepted unanimously.
5. Appointment of Committee
The committee stood for re-election and were voted in nem con.
Chairman: Bruce Fox
Vice Chairman: Brian Wood
Secretary: Margaret Matthews
Treasurer: Alex Matthews
Committee: Roger Harris
6. Forthcoming Events
Uncertainty over the preferred meeting date has prevented any forward planning of talks, but this will be implemented as soon as the membership poll has been conducted.
Sue Parry reported that Wolf Hall is still not open to visiting parties.
Nick Baxter, following his highly successful walk last year has kindly offered to organise “part two” around Marlborough, probably in late July, details to be arranged.
7. Any Other Business
There being no other business, the meeting was declared closed.