In the Centre of Village Life
Written by W.H. Case about his life in Deanshanger
Mr W.H. Case was born in the village of Deanshanger. His father, a native of the Isle of Wight, had been sent at the age of thirteen to work as house boy for the Revd. George Capel, Rector of Passenham cum Deanshanger. The date when his fathermoved to Deanshanger was approximately 1880.
My earliest memory of life was spending my first morning at school,then not wanting to go back in the afternoon. I eventually did go, as I was petted and carried by a lovable lady by the name of Miss Burrows, who in later yearsI assisted as a Junior Sunday School teacher.
Another very vivid moment in my life was when playing out of school hours along with two school friends by Messrs. E&H Roberts Agricultural Implant Works, when we just simply walked into the Paint Shop. I remember arriving home plastered in paint of various colours, then being washed and scrubbed and sent to bed, not without a couple of hefty smacks across the bottom; the usual punishment in those days.
My next memories are attending Sunday School; and on fine and dry Saturday evenings, going for walks along the various byways with my Grandfather, James Clark; also some Sundays he would take me to Passenham Church, where he was Verger. And so with gentle persuasion from my parents I grew to become accustomed to attending Sunday School and Church most regularly. This has stuck with me to the present day.
At the age of eleven I was taken under the wing of the Revd. Harry Simmonds, who a few years earlier, taken over the Parish following the death of the Revd. George Capel. I joined the Church Choir, and trained to be a Server at the Holy Communion Services. The Revd. Simmonds took great interest in me, and along with other Servers and Choir members we were often invited to the Rectory at Passenham, to ramble in the spacious grounds, or to take a Punt up or down the river, as we wished. There were also games of Cricket or Tennis on the lawn. We were also intrigued by the doings of “Passenham’s Ghost” – Sir Robert Bannister.
Unfortunately, the Revd, Simmonds’ sojourn at Passenham was not of a long duration. He was followed by the Revd. F.H. Lawson, who allowed us similar facilities at Passenham, but we found he was more severe in his duties, and there were soon some absentees from Choir and Servers rosta. However I saw no reason why I should not assist any other organisation, something which seemed to be growing in me.
I therefore continued to attend Church and Sunday School, and I was a proud young man, at the age of fourteen, when Mrs Carslake, the Miss Burrows I mentioned earlier, and who was Sunday School Superintendant, asked me to take the junior class at Sunday School. In spite of the Rector’s hostility towards me I gladly accepted, and in the two years I served in this capacity I hoped that I had put back what I had already taken out.
Photos courtesy of Deanshanger Village Heritage Society