The New Millennium
AN APPRAISAL OF THE PREVIOUS CENTURY
As the new millennium dawned there was a great deal written concerning the significance of the Twentieth Century.
The first flight by aeroplane over the Atlantic Ocean in 1919 certainly started something which was to end up in daily cross-Atlantic flights both ways. It is surprising how many Langton folk have already made that crossing. In1969 Concorde cut such journey times by half.
The Ford Model T motor vehicle of 1908 also opened up new possibilities. The Cortina, Lotus and Standard cars of 1962 took many Langton families out of their homes and village. The opening of the M1 motorway in 1959 saw the beginning of much faster and safer long-distance travel within the country.
The first television broadcast in 1936 was another great innovation. The Second World War halted its development, but when the Coronation of 1952 was being planned over a million television sets were purchased and that medium 'took off' in a big way.
The computer was another huge step forward, this time in communication of the written word. By the end of 1969 computers were able to 'speak' to each other across the world.
Space travel was another great achievement, though not immediately affecting Langton Matravers. Radio telescopes presented a different view of the universe. For a start, it was much larger than previously thought. Suddenly the significance of planet Earth seemed to dwindle. Satellite communication opened up. At the same time it has been learnt that Earth is very fragile and man’s unbridled activities can contribute in no small way towards its disintegration.
The Holidays with Pay Act of 1938 meant that many more took annual holidays.
Although the virtual end of the social class system came after 1945, in the following half-century the rich tended to get richer. What used to be called the ‘middle classes’ have benefited most from higher education.
The New Elizabethan Age which was heralded with such enthusiasm in 1952 quickly became The Swinging Sixties and then the dreadful fashions of the Seventies. There was a definite cultural shift in the concept of the family. Steadily growing affluence and almost complete employment changed attitudes to both work and leisure. By 1994 there were twenty million motor cars in Britain.
The Women’s Liberation Movement has also had quite wide effects. The Twentieth Century had seen the first woman MP and many women entering local government. In 1951 about one third of women in Britain were in employment. By 2000 the figure was 50%, and half the labour-force of the country as a whole was female.
SOME LANGTONIAN EMIGRANTS DURING THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Emigration had started in the Nineteenth Century with such young people from large families as Annie Corben, who went to San Francisco (but returned five years later) and her brother George, who went to Australia.
The trend continued in the Twentieth Century with Emily Corben going to Australia, followed there later by Bernard and Julie Harris, Robert Sadler, Pamela Harden, Philip and David Newton, Leonard and Ivy Harris and their sons Bernard and Mervyn, John Hunt, Patrick Foote and Ethel Elsey. To New Zealand went 'Toddles' Bower from Bower Cottage, Coombe, Robert Lock, Reginald Crabb, Sheila Norman and Simon Murray. Jonathan Hooper went to Tasmania. Augustus Coffin Bower went to the United States of America as did Joyce Stockting, Bill Templar and his sister Violet. Deborah Saville went to Canada, Nigel Harris to Spain, Jasmine (née Bower) and Trevor Cattle to northern France and Simon Saville to The Netherlands. This list of thirty-one within one hundred and ten years may not include all of Langton's emigrants during that period.
SOME STATISTICS FROM THE 2001 CENSUS
The resident population of the parish was 1,617 with exactly 50% male and 50% female. 34.3% were aged sixty or over; 18% aged under sixteen; and 39.4% between thirty and fifty-nine. 65.5% were married and 17.7% single. The rest were separated, divorced or widowed.
There were no ethnic groups within the parish, though there were eight who gave their religion as other than Christian. 80.5% still said they considered themselves to be Christian, and 12.4% said they had no religion at all.
57.8% were employed, 26.5% retired, and 5.6% looking after the home and/or the family. 22.5% had qualifications to Degree level or higher.
82% of homes were owner-occupied. 3.2% were rented from the Council. 24.8% were one person households. Still 10.5% had no motor vehicle, whereas 45.1% had more than one vehicle.
The average number of rooms in the dwellings was six. Only 19% of the dwellings were flats.
(This material is taken from the Crown Copyright Neighbourhood Statistics Summary, to which I am indebted).
CELEBRATION OF THE MILLENNIUM
The Parish Council decided on a piece of sculpture for the centre of the village as a celebration of the new millennium. The theme was a Stonemason. The chosen sculptor was Miss Mary Spencer Watson of Dunshay Manor House, a much-respected and greatly-gifted local artist whose sculptures can be seen in various parts of the country. The site chosen was the little church garden on the west side of the entrance into St George’s Close, an area which was never consecrated but once housed the parson’s Barn.
There were celebratory local events in the Church, the School, the Old Malthouse Preparatory School, the Village Hall and the Museum. The Local History Society produced a CD of a Walk through the Village, which can still be purchased at the Parish Museum.
CLUBS AND SOCIETIES
The Horticultural Society, the Photographic Society, the Langton Branch of the Women’s Institute, the Langton Branch of the Mothers’ Union, the Langton Over Sixties Club, the Langton Youth Club, the Line-Dancing, the Langton Football Team and the Snooker Club have all closed down. In addition, the four-part choir at the Parish Church is virtually non-existent.
Societies which are still going strong are the local branch of the Dorset Wildlife Trust, the Local History and Preservation Society, the Short-Mat Bowls Club, the Scouts, Guides and Brownies. New clubs are the Fitness Class, Tai-Chi, a Stitching Group which meets once a month, a Recorder Class which meets twice monthly, and the T-Set for elderly folk, particularly the housebound, once a fortnight. Productions brought in by Artsreach to the Village Hall have also proved to be extremely popular, often attracting a 'full house'.
St George’s School has an After School Club, which has proved to be very popular among its pupils.
HOARD OF BRONZE-AGE AXES
In December of 2007 a coach-driver from Winchester who had just brought a party of school-children to visit Putlake Adventure Farm, and who was also a keen user of a metal-detector, asked permission of the proprietor to use the instrument on the footpaths south of the farmyard. Neither he nor the proprietor knew at the time that the Scott family who owned the farm had a strict policy of not allowing such activities on their land.
A very large hoard of Late Bronze Age Axes was discovered in a field just south of the farmyard. The Curator of Winchester Museum was called in to deal with the site though this, again, was illegal as the Dorset Archaeological Society should have been informed and provided an archaeologist. The hoard was then, once again illegally, removed from the County. However, to the relief of all parishioners, by March 2009 the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society had managed to raise the £42,500 required to purchase the hoard so that it might be retained in the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester.
This cache of over four hundred axes is the most prestigious Bronze Age discovery of all time in England and has aroused a great deal of interest in Europe, putting Langton Matravers ‘on the map’ again, this time in the best way.
It is thought that the hoard, which is in pristine condition except for the specimens which had been dragged or broken by later ploughing activity, was a gift to the gods, either for some past favour or to ask a favour for the future. This means that this area of what later became the parish was at one time a holy site.
The axes could not have been used as they included a good deal of tin and would have been too brittle.
This factor dated them to the very late Bronze Age. The field where the discovery was made is the same one in which Mr Bernard Calkin, an eminent archaeologist who lived in the village, unearthed an Iron Age or Romano-British farm site including the burial of its owners, with their grave-goods, which was described in Chapter Two of the longer book of which this is part…which brings this historical extract neatly back to its beginning.
Reginald Saville MBE