Restored memoir offers glimpse at village life in Campsea Ashe in times gone by

Tim Holmes with the freshly restored Notes on Campsea Ashe at John the Baptist Church in the village

Tim Holmes with the freshly restored Notes on Campsea Ashe at John the Baptist Church in the village

A fascinating written account of early 20th century village life has been restored in time for a celebration honouring its author.

The freshly restored Notes on Campsea Ashe.

The freshly restored Notes on Campsea Ashe.

Notes on Campsea Ashe was written by the Rev Francis Granville Lewis Lucas, rector of the village near Wickham Market from 1906 to 1915.

Last year, Campsea Ashe Heritage Group referenced the book’s Great War Diary chapter while compiling a record of the 84 villagers who went into battle, including two of the rector’s own sons.

It was restored at Judith Wiesner’s Conservation Studio and will go on display later this month.

The son of a baronet, Mr Lucas moved to Suffolk aged 46, with his wife and three sons, from Ashtead in Surrey.


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He began Notes on Campsea Ashe in 1909 – the year he established a boys choir and ordered repairs to the church tower. He also established links with the local school, where he would check registers and teach scripture.

His eldest son, Alan, was decorated during the First World War, about which, Mr Lucas wrote: “My eldest son is included in today’s list of honours in the Battle of Neux Chappelle, amongst those awarded the Military Cross. Great is the parental pride and gratitude for his safety.”

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When Alan was injured in battle, Mr Lucas wrote: “My son, who got concussion and nerve shock at the battle of Neux Chappelle, and then measles, is home now with two months’ sick leave.”

Towards the end of his time in the village, Mr Lucas suffered considerable sadness at the suicide of his brother, Reginald. By 1915, he was going deaf and felt he had to leave Campsea Ashe, retiring to Poughley, near Hungerford, and then Morestead Grange, near Winchester, where he continued the war diary and added to the story of Campsea Ashe when he could.

He died in August, 1939 – his funeral conducted by the Bishop of Sheffield. It is not certain what then happened to the book but it was eventually left to the heritage group by the late village recorder.

Chairman, Tim Holmes said: “It gives a vast amount of detail on the village at the time and a lot of history of going back to Domesday. We don’t know how he managed it – nowadays, of course, we would go on the internet.”

Visitors to the church can see the book from 2pm-4pm on Saturday, June 27. At 3.30pm there will be an informal guided tour of the church led by the heritage group.

Sunday Service will include a dedication at 9.30am the following day.

A transcript can be read at campseaashechurch.org.uk, with biographies of those who fought in the Great War, recorded in a book available in the church.

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