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January 2019

Chapel Lawn - Whither or wither -  a chance to decide?

A small group has been set up in Clun to investigate whether a project to produce a new community plan has support and to recommend to the Town Council whether that plan should be a Neighbourhood Plan or a Community Led Plan. At present I am a member of that group. I would welcome comments and questions from residents and businesses in Chapel Lawn ward. The focus appears to be very much centred on the town of Clun as most of the group are from Clun. If the project progresses with financial help from Shropshire Council then it is important that voices from more rural, remoter areas are heard. If you contact me you are not committing yourself to any involvement though, of course, if you are interested in getting involved that would be very welcome. My contact details are at the end of this article. Please do read on………..

You may remember the Clun and Chapel Lawn Parish Plan which was produced around 2009/10. It is nearly 20 years since Parish Plans were first thought of as a means of giving a voice to those living in rural areas. Some plans failed but some were extremely successful. Today rural communities have two options if they want to have some control over what happens in their area. There are Neighbourhood Plans and Community Led Plans.

Neighbourhood Plans are specifically about planning as in development and land use. They are very technical, requiring on going advice from a planning expert and needing to be assessed at the end by a Planning Inspector. If the plan is found to meet the criteria it becomes a legal document which planners must take into account when considering planning matters in that parish.

Community Led Plans are very similar to the previous Parish Plans. They are led, as the name suggests, by the community not the parish council and cover those matters that the community feels are important. That can include transport, housing, environment, planning, community facilities, community governance, communication and more. The important thing is that these broad subjects are broken down into practical issues that we in the community can do something about. The focus is on coming up with a plan to retain what we want to retain and preserve, to change those things that we want to change and to ensure that the production of the plan itself is only the beginning.

What matters is that the aspirations of the community are realised through follow up and action. Action, that is, by the community, using local government and other statutory bodies and any individual, group or organisation willing to help us reach our goals.

If you would like to comment or would like more information please email me at cmwilde@btinternet.com or speak to me on 01547 530085.  Thank you

Carolyn Wilde

A shorter version of this article appeared in The Redlake this month.  If you are at all interested in what goes on in your community - do contact Carolyn.

THE REDLAKE

Our short 4 page magazine/news letter ‘The Redlake’, is kept deliberately short and readable, but this means that sometimes articles which people have written have had to be edited.  Some of these articles can be read in full here, sometimes with additional pictures.

On this page:

Colin Morris, Our local Postman - Steven Oakden

Community led plan - Carolyn Wilde



It is sometime since the Redlake News covered the work of the  wonderful postal workers who serve us so well in this hilly terrain.  With a host of narrow lanes, muddy badly maintained tracks, drivers who can't or won't reverse, stray animals, loose dogs and vicious letterboxes it's not a job for the feint hearted. One can also add in long walks to front doors and the weather we have.

The Redlake Valley is part of the Hopton Castle round  and there are two main people who deliver our mail, Colin Morris and Trudy Gough both of whom are locals born and bred. Colin has always lived in Craven Arms and Trudy was bought up close to Ferney Hall at Onibury. Sometimes during holiday periods our post is delivered by Kevin Lane and occasionally by Liz Stokes.

Colin has kindly agreed to help with this profile in his own time and I asked him the following questions.

Besides taking out parcels and post what other duties does a postman/woman do during a shift?

Collecting mail from post offices and post boxes. Sorting out mail in the sorting office, especially the business mail after a collection.

What are the shift patterns?
Most postal staff work a 0700 to 14.30 shift, however the work for Colin is normally a shift starting at 10.30am and ending at 6.30 pm. The day starts with collecting ready sorted mail which are categorised into boxes, these are taken out into the post van which has fittings for them. The deliveries  have to finish by 4pm in order to do the collections. There are restrictions in the timings for the collections, for instance mail from Clun post office cannot be collected before 4.30p.m.  and Bishops Castle cannot be collected before 5.15p.m.

How many different rounds are there in your repertoire?

Colin has knowledge of eight rounds, Acton, Bucknell, Clun, Hopton Castle, Wetmore, Craven Arms Town, Cheney Longville and Middlehope.

Each round has a book called a walk log which lists all places to deliver to and has a map in it, the posties can write up in this any hazards at the various drops(delivery locations)  and special delivery information and changes to the round.

Have you had any difficult experiences in bad weather such as this last winter?
A decision is made to stop deliveries when conditions are really bad by the manager at Craven Arms. Quite often rather than cancelling the whole round the staff will do what they can such as covering low lying areas, if the snow and ice is just in the hills. Snow, ice and fog can be very localised so it isn't an exact science judging what can and can't be delivered. If a round is cancelled the postie then assists a colleague on another round that is able to get out. They help their colleague to deliver the parcels and try to save time when bad weather means longer walking times to properties and other complications.

Most unusual thing found in a postbox during a collection?

Finding sweets and cartons of squash is quite common, presumably placed there by children for the postie to have during a break.

How big is the round?

There are about 300 places (called drops) to deliver mail to on the Hopton Castle round.

Something the public may not appreciate is that around here Parcel Force lorries can't always get to some locations and so undeliverable parcels are given  to the posties to deliver.

Anything customers could do to help you?

Yes please!
1. Overgrown paths can be very hazardous with tripping hazards.  Overhanging branches are a nuisance especially when wet as brushing against them means the postie gets soaked.

2. When you have a new door please remember to include a new postbox in your plans and have a word with the postie, warning them beforehand of the change over and where you would like mail left. If there is going to be a period without a postbox the postie can't guess what your wishes are!

You must have to deal with animals. Any stories to tell?

Marianne Bright  who used to do our round opened up the back of the van to find a dog in it. It had jumped into van during one of the calls, she had actually driven some distance since the last call so had to go back to make a second delivery to the address, this time to return the dog!

Colin was going upto Hobarris one day and there was a cow in the road, it wouldn't move over to the side of the road and slowly walked up the lane, stopping to graze every so often. Colin did his various deliveries but each time he rejoined the lane the cow was still there a little further along, he eventually managed to get past it at Pen-y-Wen crossroads.

11. What happens if you have a van break down on a delivery?

The Royal Mail has an arrangement with one of the national motoring organisations to aid a swift recovery if one of the vans breaks down. The system is that the drivers are responsible for checking over their vehicles on a daily basis looking for any obvious defects before they commence their shift. If a van is out of use for repairs then a hire van may be used.

I noticed that Colin's van although it just travels locally in areas around Craven Arms had travelled over 105,000 miles. It is only 5years old!

12. Have you ever got stuck, such as in ice, snow or in muddy conditions (very prevalent around here)

On the round that includes the Redlake Valley Colin has only got stuck once, up at Cwm Farm above Clunton where the farmer came to his help with a 4w drive vehicle. Elsewhere local farmers have helped in bad conditions with tractors.

13. Any stories about badly packed items.

Badly packed items are thankfully a rarity. When a package or parcel has burst open the item is taken to the manager at the sorting office who verifies the problem and the item is placed in a strong plastic bag so that no items within the parcel can go astray. Paperwork outlining the problem is completed and the manager signs this. The item can then be placed for delivery on the next round.

14. Anything else you think the community may not appreciate.

Colin has been doing postal work for 12 years and enjoys his job, he says," always say Hello", to the postie, they like to be part of the community.

15. Has the nature of the job changed in recent years?
With the advent and huge growth in internet use,  letters have declined, people communicate more often with another now by using email, social media and texting. Colin has also noticed a decline in the number of cards, even at Christmas.  How many of us send postcards from our holidays these days?

Colin and I agreed that although there are other ways to communicate, receiving  a letter is always rather special and that it's nice to receive a proper card.  Colin says his motto would be "send a card and a smile". Whilst the internet has reduced personal use of the postal service it has generated a huge increase in the number of parcels and packages, this is down to the growth of internet shopping.

To aid the different service standards for delivering parcels scanners are used. These include  tracked items no signature required, signed for items, and special deliveries deliver by 1pm. These latter items  occur every day and require the postie to interrupt their round to go to the delivery location. If the item isn't delivered by 1pm the customer can make a claim against the Royal Mail for late delivery.


Finally I would like to thank Colin Morris for giving up his own time to be interviewed for this article. I would like to point out that no mail was  delayed by the compilation of this article!


Colin Morris - Our local Postman

The full article from January’s Redlake by Steven Oakden  

Colin Morris, local 'Postie' Colin in his van

March 2019

From April Issue of The Redlake:

The Sad Story of Fanny Corfield  (short version) written by Patrick Cosgrove

In 1891, Lower House Farm, now Well House in Chapel Lawn was owned by 32-year old Thomas Herbert Williams, whose family had farmed in Chapel Lawn and Beguildy for generations.   Five others lived there – a housekeeper, a general servant, a shepherd, a cowman and a waggoner.  The housekeeper was 37 year old Fanny Corfield , originally from Winsley in Shropshire. The shepherd was 25-year old Alfred Buckley, from Leintwardine.  Fanny’s parents had died young and she then  worked as a housekeeper for her younger brother, William, who farmed at Sibdon Carwood near Church Stretton.  Fanny and Alfred  may even have already known each other before coming to Chapel Lawn as Alfred’s father, James, came from Onibury, no distance at all from Sibdon Carwood. Fanny was a mainstay of Chapel Lawn life, bringing her culinary and organisational capabilities to bear whenever there was a church or school event, or for the annual choir outing. There are many references to this in the parish magazine, including these:   

February 1891.  “Chapel Lawn Schools’ ‘Treats’ for children: Mr and Mrs Laurence (School House) kindly undertook the arrangements of providing tea in the school-room, and thanks to a splendid table erected by Mr Robinson, of The Pentre, down the centre of the room a large number were able to sit down at the same time. Miss Corfield, Miss Deakin, Mrs Vaughan, Miss Watkins, and others gave great assistance, and everything passed off very well.

October 1894. Harvest Festival: We must not omit mentioning that the decorations which were most tasteful and effective, certainly crowned the efforts of Mrs. N.H. Davies, Mrs Stedman, Miss Corfield, Miss Edwards and Miss Hamar with success, the Church never having looked better.

August 1895. Chapel Lawn choir outing to Swansea: Meantime, Mrs. Myddleton, Miss Corfield, Mrs. Robinson, Mrs. Adams and Mrs. Vaughan repaired to a  room previously engaged at the Victoria Restaurant for the purpose of unpacking and preparing what our American friends would call a good square meal, which on the return of the main body was done ample justice to.” .

Fanny and Alfred married on Wednesday 15th April 1896, but  in Clun: maybe there because 8-year old Thomas Weaver of Rock Hill was buried that day in St Marys’ graveyard at Chapel Lawn.  (It  was an eventful year for Lower House as Thomas Williams, married Rose Annie Edwards from Brincalled on 11th November). They stayed on at Lower House for a few months before moving across the road to what is now James Middleton’s house, which had just been vacated by Mr W H Davies, the choir master. The Buckleys farmed as tenants to Mr Davies who now worked as a music teacher in Bognor Regis. Fanny continued to feature prominently in village life, including helping to cater for 300 people at the 1896 Harvest Supper!  All we know of Alfred in those years is that along with John Robinson of The Woodcock Inn, James Vaughan, the miller at what is now The Quern, and Herbert Laurence of the School House, he sold a large number of tickets for the Chapel Lawn annual entertainment held on 20th January 1897 which was a great success.  

From our Chapel Lawn Correspondent:-January 20th was the day fixed for the Annual Entertainment held in this schoolroom for the purpose of obtaining funds for the choir trip during the ensuing summer; as usually of late, it was, we are glad to say, a great success, the room being as full as was compatible with comfort, and if, as we hear, Ludlow Ball suffered in consequence of our having fixed upon the same evening, we hope the managers of that affair will pardon us, and Chapel Lawn will try and not stand in their way another time, especially as friends from that town always give us their kind and valuable help. The programme was a long one, the first part commenced with an instrumental duet by Mrs. Williams and Miss Urwick, to be followed by glees by the Choir and songs by the Misses Hamar, Watkins and Davies, Dr. Nunes always popular, and Messrs. Beaumont, Amies Lewis and J. Hamar. When all was so good it seems invidious to mention one more than another, indeed the remark was heard more than once, that each performer surpassed her or himself as the case may be, but we must be allowed to mention Miss E. Hara’s solos, which were a thorough treat; A Quartette, “De Profundo Basso” by Mrs. James, Miss Pugh, Mr Lawrence, and Mr. James provoked roars of laughter, and encores , which latter indeed were the order of the night. For the second part of the programme we are indebted to the Obley troupe of Minstrels, whose fame had preceded them, and who gave us a splendid selection of negro and comic songs, which were much appreciated, and thoroughly enjoyed; this part finished by special request by “My Mother’s Sweet Home is in Wales,” sung by Mr. Johnson, the leader of the troupe, first in Welsh then in English, we recommend those who have not heard this troupe to try and do so. We hope the Choir are as grateful as they should be to all the kind friends who helped them, especially Mr. Townsend, who so kindly came over the hill to give us his help. The funds amounted to £3/2/0, our expenses being very small, owing to Mr. Robinson’s usual goodness in erecting the platform and preparing the room free of charge; what other village is so fortunate I wonder?

In the spring of 1899, along with John Hamar of Llynaven, Alfred became churchwarden, a post he held for another three years.  Later that year he is reported to have hauled a load of coke for the church from Knighton Station, a task he repeated in 1900, and 1901, and in 1902 for the church and the school. “It seems hardly fair the work should fall always on the same willing helper”.

Fanny’s name crops up frequently in lists of subscribers to various causes: 2/- in 1894 to the Ladies Home Mission Association (collection arranged by Mrs Myddleton of Llynaven); 4/6 in 1899 to Universities Mission to Central Africa, and 5/7 in 1900;  in 1900, “One contribution has been made by Mrs. Buckley to the Fund for supplying comforts to the Shropshire Regiments engaged in the War.” July 1901: 5/- towards  expenses for the annual choir outing to Llandrindod Wells; 2/6 in 1902 towards a new silver chalice in the church in celebration of the coronation of King George. These were not insubstantial amounts which suggests that the Buckleys’ tenancy in Chapel Lawn was doing well.

Then, without any explanation that can be found, the Wellington Journal of March 28th 1903 advertised the sale by auction of all the Buckley’s livestock and equipment on 1st April, five days after Lady Day when farm tenancies changed hands. The sale included: “75 improved Clun Forest sheep, including 63 grand young ewes in or with lambs, 3 cart horses, a bay cob gelding (about 14 hands), 18 Hereford cattle, including seven young cows and heifers and  eight yearling bullocks and heifers, a collection of farm implements including a well-built dog cart, a set of harness, six sets of gears, cider and casks and numerous miscellaneous effects.” Was this a move of their own volition or had Mr Davies terminated their tenancy?

After the sale Fanny and Alfred moved to Bucknell.  “Mr. and Mrs. Buckley are leaving Chapel Lawn. During the time they have been with us, they have always been foremost in helping in the work of the Church. Mr. Buckley has been Churchwarden for four years, and Mrs. Buckley has generally done most of the decorations of the Church, whilst it has been to her management that we have owed the excellent arrangements and success of our Harvest Thanksgiving Teas. She has beside helped in many other ways known only to few. It will be a difficult matter to fill the gaps caused by their going.”  

The next we hear is that Fanny died in 1905 aged 51.  “We were all grieved to hear the death of Mrs. Buckley, who was always so willing to help in all Church work at Chapel Lawn. She and her husband have been much missed since they left us for Bucknell. She was taken to the Salop Infirmary for special treatment where she died. She was buried at Halford on October 23rd. May God comfort her husband in his great sorrow.”

 Fanny may have been ill for a while, explaining their departure from Chapel Lawn, and they may only have lived in Bucknell temporarily. She had relatives around Church Stretton, so it’s likely that she had been taken there for the last year or so of her life. Her death certificate records cause of death as ‘Malignant disease of liver’, so possibly cancer. The death certificate records Alfred’s occupation as ‘a farm bailiff of the parish of Stokesay with Afcot as his residence which is near Church Stretton.

Fanny’s Will took four years to settle, but in 1909 Alfred received £399. 19s 7d, a large amount of money in those days. As the older partner in the marriage with experience of budgeting for large households, Fanny probably managed the farm income and once the 1903 sale was over and illness forced her to fall back on family, there was little to spend it on. By 1911, six years after Fanny’s death, Alfred was employed as a farm bailiff by George Townsend at the Leasowes Farm in Clun. That farm was sold in 1912, so he may have moved elsewhere after that. But there is a possible loose end to this story. In 1912, in Clun, an Alfred Buckley married a Frances Welson from Lydbury North. Did she become another Fanny Buckley?


Patrick Cosgrove

(October 2018)


April 2019