Then and Now Exhibition 1973
Exhibition of East Meon’s history and present, 1973
From article in ‘Hampshire’ magazine by Joan Grigsby
The idea of an exhibition was the brain child of Mrs Lettice Ross, the wife of a retired Naval Officer, Captain T.D.Ross who, since he is the Hampshire hon. secretary of CPRE, is quite obviously in full sympathy with his wife’s activities. But her real helpers were the people of East Meon itself who took up the idea with such enthusiasm and pleasure that when I visited it on a golden day in September I found that many of the treasures to be exhibited for two days in November were already collected together and the whole operation was taking form not only as a plan but in tangible fact.
Mr Witt, who until recently ran the main grocer’s and provision shop in the middle of the village, was Mrs Ross’ right-hand man. He has recently given up his business, owing to ill health, and the shop itself, which stands temporarily empty, proved a splendidly central assembly point for many of the larger exhibits. It was here that I met the six East Meon ‘olds and bolds’, all of whom had been brought up in the village and were to provide the team for the Talk In which, presided over by Mr Brian Blackett, will provide the highlight of the two day exhibition. Their talk will consist of entirely unscripted memories of East Meon of the pre-war (or wars) days, but since it is all to be recorded, the memories will be preserved.
They were all there in Mr Witt’s shop, turning over fading photographs, all of which revived stories and the basis of cheerful argument. Village bands and cricket teams, village fetes and flower shows, the triumphant return of a VC from the next parish driven in a splendid pre-war Morris by a friend from East Meon.
There was Mrs Lambert and Mrs Clara Fisher and Miss Luff (who herself had lent almost enough material for a whole exhibition). There was Mr Herbert Goddard, the Chairman of the Parish Council, and Mr Ted Whitear and Mr Macdonald, whose baby clothes and binder I had seen carefully laid out in Mrs Ross’s house, together with Mrs Lambert’s beautifully embroidered christening robes. And with the Olds and Bolds, ready to give active help in the whole enterprise, where Mrs Julie Canning and Mrs Mary Crockford of a far younger generation but both brought up in the village and with children at the village school.
Together we examined the treasures they had produced, sometimes debating about the use to which they had been put. There was no doubt however about a lamb’s tailing stall or bench with a trailing iron since it is still in use on a farm in East Meon today. There was a set of sheep’s bells in graded tones, a sheep’s boot for an injured foot, a milking stool and churn and a farm worker’s stone drinking bottle, and a number of crooks and smocks all telling of the village’s (and indeed the valley’s) preoccupation with agriculture. There were sets of cobbler’s and wheelwright’s tools (the latter lent by the Curtis Museum in Alton) and a splendid collection of old bicycle lamps.
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