Annual General Meeting 2017

14 October 2017


Members and guests attending the Trust’s AGM on 14th October 2017 travelled to what our speaker described as a secret isle in the Hampshire countryside: Red Rice, home of Farleigh School, south of Andover, between Abbotts Ann, the Clatfords, the Wallops and Danebury.

The 34 members and guests present were welcomed both by Trust President, Nigel Atkinson Esq, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, and by the Headmaster, Fr Simon Everson, who spoke about the emphasis placed by the school on pastoral care and on bringing the best out of’ its 400 pupils, who include both Catholics and non- Catholics. 1–1e commented that within the school’s 70 acres, hockey, football, netball and swimming might all be going on during the course of the day. A tour concluded the afternoon ‘s events.

Mr Atkinson noted that the Trusts s AGM had also been held at Red Rice in 1996, albeit not in the same building, as this time we were making use of the newly-opened music school.

The Annual Report was presented by Vice-Chairman Charlotte Bailey. She welcomed our new Trustees including David Canniford — who had successfully taken on the role of Treasurer — and also thanked the retiring Trustees Maureen Goss and John Winckler. She mentioned the innovative projects, including educational resource boxes, being undertaken in Wessex Film and Sound Archive by Film Archive Officer.

Zoe Viney, whose post is funded by a British Film Institute grant. She expressed the Trust’s thanks to a number of donors, and also to Hampshire County Council for the support provided by members of staff at Hampshire Record Office. She was particularly grateful to County Archivist and Trust Secretary Caroline Edwards who was so generous with her time, and shouts of ‘Hear, hear’ greeted her thanks to Christine Stanton for all her administrative support.

She noted the need for the Trust to take on more responsibility for its own administration, in these times of reduced staffing, and she thanked those members who already helped, including the Executive Committee members, now to be known as Trustees, whose discussions were lively and productive; she was pleased that we had been successful in recruiting a new Chairman. She thanked the visits organisers, and Suzanne Hudson as Membership Secretary. The Trust was grateful to Ron Meekings who was now stepping down after five years as Independent Examiner of the Trust’s accounts, and to the outgoing Treasurer Jane Lovett.

The Lord-Lieutenant thanked the Vice-Chairman for presenting the report, and also expressed thanks for the huge contribution made by Caroline Edwards; applause ensued in both cases. The Annual Report was adopted, with thanks to Charlotte Bailey for her extra work during the year of vacancy in the Chairmanship.

Jane Lovett presented the financial report, which showed a sound position; the accounts were adopted. Sir Leonard Appleyard and John Isherwood were re-elected as Vice-Presidents.

David Livermore was elected as Chairman and David Canniford as Treasurer; members were given some details of their backgrounds (included in the autumn 2017 Newsletter). Cheryl Butler, Sarah Speller and David Spurling were elected as Trustees, and Peter Andreae, Michael Gunton and Lord Montagu were re-elected.

Sue Woolgar presented the proposed revised constitution. The proposals sought to reflect current needs and to make the language simpler and more accessible. She thanked Ted Mason for checking the proposals from a legal point of view. The term ‘Trustees’ was being adopted in place of ‘Executive Committee members’, to reflect their responsibilities in the eyes of the Charity Commission. The revised definition of the Trust’s aims reflected a change from undertaking projects such as surveys and publications ourselves, to enabling others to do so. Changes in technology made it desirable to authorise the use of email as a means of formal communication, to assist the Trustees in making decisions between meetings. Subscriptions would no longer be specified in the constitution, making it simpler to revise these when necessary. She invited comments over the ensuing weeks, and explained that it was intended that the proposals would be finalised at the next Executive Committee meeting.

Mr Atkinson closed the formal part of the meeting by thanking Fr Everson for the use of the venue, and introducing our speaker Dianne Rawlings, Farleigh School’s Librarian and Archivist.

Dianne began with her own journey into archives: having specialised in Transjordan pottery of the Early Bronze Age, she had had little interest in anything dating from after 3,500 BC. She had worked as a field archaeologist for several universities and as a Curator at the British Museum, where she had been responsible for material from sites such as Nineveh, some of it excavated by T E Lawrence and Max Mallowan. Ten years ago an advertisement in the Andover Advertiser, for the post of Librarian and Archivist at Farleigh School, led to a change in career. She was impressed by the visionary job description, and the beautiful stonework of the original building, and soon discovered the infectious enthusiasm that comes from working with young people.

She explained that they were in the early stages of a journey exploring the significance of the material they held, in defining themselves as a community and giving them a sense of those who had gone before. The school was relatively young, being a separate institution from the earlier Farleigh House School, and also from Redrice School which occupied the present site between 1961 and 1982, but the archive does include material about the earlier schools: an album had recently been donated containing photographs taken when Red Rice was being converted into a school in the 1960s, with sheep still grazing the surrounding land. It was quite an act of faith by the parents to allow their children to attend a school which still had bulldozers in, where one pupil converted a duckpond into a swimming-pool. A number of features from Red Rice’s days as a country estate were retained: the bell that had summoned estate workers from the fields had been retained as a school bell. Fragments of glass, tile and brick, evidence of successive changes to the house, continue to turn up, and Dianne is encouraging a young archaeologists’ group. It is hoped to digitise the whole archive and make it available to the whole community.

Dianne had visited HRO to explore Red Rice’s earlier history, and the eclectic range of people who had found their way to this spot, close to the crossroads of routes to Danebury, Stockbridge, Salisbury and London,

We heard of the Errington family (including Maria Fitzherbert), and the Revd Thomas Best who commissioned William Burn in the 1840s to remodel the house. Subsequent residents included the Cunard family, Henry Adolphus Simonds (a brewer from Reading) and the Miller Mundy family. In the Second World War there were RAF personnel, Land Girls and US servicemen, plus stuffed birds sent from the British Museum for safekeeping; Eisenhower visited undercover in 1944.

The talk was followed by a most generous tea, and a number of members then enjoyed a tour of the buildings led by Dianne and colleagues. As we retraced our steps to the world beyond, we could reflect on a comment made to her by a pupil, that Red Rice’s position at the crossroads enabled them both to keep in touch with the outside world and to keep it at bay.

Visit to Red Rice, home of Farleigh School 2017 AGM
Visit to Red Rice, home of Farleigh School 2017 AGM