Woodford Halse Archive

The Church of St Mary the Virgin
The Church of St Mary the Virgin

Woodford Buildings

St Mary’s

The Mothers Union was established in March 1911, though the inaugural meeting was held in December 1910, but for some reason it took until March to get started.

When the Choir first started is not known and the earliest mention that can be found is in the Northampton Mercury of 29th July, 1899, in which is published a letter from the Reverend H.H. Minchin, who had left the village in 1884 for a living at Hunsden, Herts. The letter was a tribute to the late Sir Henry Dryden, who had recently died and in it he tells of the interest Sir Henry had in the parish, and of the school he built. He also mentioned the weekly trudge of three miles, Sir Henry made, to take the choir for practice, no matter what the weather. From that it can be safely assumed that there was a choir in the mid-19th century.

At one time there was a reading room at the corner of Parsons Close, where No. 19 Church Street, now stands. In 1890 it was open from 10am. to 10 pm. each weekday and from 7.30pm to 9pm. on Sundays. It is assumed that the long hours of opening on weekdays was to give the out of work men somewhere to go as an alternative to the public houses in the village.

That there was unemployment in the parish is evidenced by a letter from the Vicar in the January issue of the Parish Magazine of 1891, in which he said, “There is not much unemployment in the village although the winter was the severest for many years”. When the room opened is not known, nor yet when it closed, it is said that it was burned down circa 1920. It must have closed, as a reading room, for a time until re-opened, when work on building the railway through the village commenced in 1895. The Northampton Mercury of 7th June 1895, records that it was re-opened by Miss Adeline Pym, as a reading room for navvies employed on making the new railway and it is assumed that it would close when the navvies moved on. The Woodford men would have obtained regular work and there would be no need for the reading room. Later, it would be put to other uses, probably as a store place for the marquees, ropes, stalls etc., owned by the Horticultural Society, formed in 1898. Later still it was used by the Scouts when that organisation started in the village, until its destruction by fire.

By kind permission of Woodford Halse Archive