The St Osyth
Mrs Wood donated two
cups (see below) to the the organisors of the the Music Section
of Sudbury Festival of Performing Arts - originally "Clare
Festival". They are awarded each year to Schools and Churches
for their outstanding musical achievements.
||In the 1950's Mrs
St Osyth Wood was President of the then Clare Festival.
Clare School (presumably Junior) wanted to have a school orchestra
to enter the Festival so Tom Wells (author of these memories)
asked the parents to look in their attics for any "old
fiddles" Some 30 turned up & after repairs had been
done a string orchestra was formed. Mrs St Osyth Wood said that
they ought to have some woodwind so she bought a clarinet &
flute for the school & paid for a tutor to come from Bury
St Edmunds to teach pupils how to play them.
<<< dated 1940.
Mrs Wood then donated
a cup, called the "St Osyth Wood Part Song Cup for
The first recipient was in 1968 Gt Waldingfield Church,
although it does say on the front, "Presented by Mrs St Osyth
M E Wood OBE 1967"
However, this may have been
given a lot earlier as Clare Festival was originally only for choirs.
It was the schools responsibility to engrave their schools name
on the cup, it`s possible earlier winners may not have undertaken
The current holder is "Braintree Male Voice Choir"
Later she then presented the Festival with the "St Osyth
Wood Junior Schools Orchestra Cup" This now resides with
St Margaret's Preparatory School at Gosfield, being the latest winner
The cup`s inscription confirms the first recipient was Clare Primary
School in 1966.
The cup was not presented
for some years, but came to light again a couple of years ago when
the Sudbury Festival reallocated a new block of classes as an inducement
for new entrants!
Courtesy of Mrs Helen Flute, Sudbury
Festival for considerable assistance.
also St Margarets Prep School Gosfield for their patience.
Acknowledgment to:- "A Festival President Presents his Festival
Reflections" by Tom Wells, which has not been printed or published.
notes contributed from various sources.
It has been well documented
that St Osyth smoked untipped cigarettes incessantly, Weights and
Woodbines, and was a very generous, fiercely intelligent and almost
frighteningly observant woman.
The latter can be substantiated by the following story:-
1962/3 a local resident decided to build a very modern home at Mount
Bures based on a design from the Ideal Home Exhibition. The lounge
and kitchen being upstairs with a balcony to make full use of the
panoramic views across the valley. When the owner arrived at the
building site one day to see the progress, she was greeted with
a chauffeur driven car standing on the drive and Mrs Wood making
herself at home on the site. The owner was informed by Mrs Wood
wearing a formidable flowery hat, that this modern type of house
was a blot on the landscape which she could see from Parsonage Hall.
It was a disgrace ! She was
very polite, but made her views known about modern construction
Parsonage Hall is approximately
1.5miles from the house in question.
was also noted for her ability to create dolls furniture out of
mahogany, an extremely hard wood to work with.
The Essex Handicraft Association (now closed) drew up plans for
a magnificent Dolls House in 1955 to Architectural standards based
on a typical large Essex House, it was subsequently called "The
Essex Model House".
The initial idea emanated from Lady Riche of Boreham Manor, using
the services of architect Martin Evans from Feering.
prepared or could build such a house and the concept didn't materialise
for several years until St Osyth accepted the challenge.
It was a magnificent construction, made out of Mahogany and the
furniture made out of "Pear" wood. It had genuine parquet
It was so large, it is rumoured a professional plasterer was employed
to decorate the interior.
This stood for some time in Parsonage Hall at Bures on display.
Today, it stands on display at the
Braintree Museum - Click here for detailed
(thanks to Janet Brunswick, Aylesbury for this information)
St Osyth also made two complete model
villages. They were based on real places and had everything from
the Church and grave yard to the School and Manor. The detail was
fantastic with little tiny flower beds, a dove cot, cedar and poplar
trees together with walls off all kinds.
One of the villages is located in Scotland and the other location
(thanks to Virginia Smalley, Scotland)
Needlework and embroidery
was another one of her many skills -
St. Osyth had put in her will that her workbox and needlework should
be passed on to the Embroiderers Guild. This is now kept in the
archives of the Embroiderers Guild at Hampton Court, Middlesex.
Located within the palace are two craft organisations: the Embroiderers
Guild and the Royal School of Needlework.
notes below by Neville Hume.
and St Osyth also help finance the purchase of Vicarage Meadows
during the 1940`s. This now accommodates the local Cricket Pitch
and lies adjacent to todays Recreation Ground.
St Osyth was supposedly
a Governess at Roedean School for Girls at Brighton (unconfirmed
However, St Osyth was a pupil at Roedean from the Summer Term 1900
to the end of the Michaelmas Term 1902.
St Osyth contributed
£100 to start of the village contributions for a new Village
Hall. The sum required was never reached and St Osyth made up the
balance, the final figure may have been in the region of £12,500.
The plaque inside the door today just says "opened by St Osyth
Wood June 1960" - this is an understatement she did more
than open it, she financed the entire project.
There is record of a
"St Osyth M E Wood" being a passenger on two ships. One
arriving at Liverpool and the other at Southampton. Her name is
just documented as being a passenger, cannot be too many people
with that name. No idea of date.
St Osyth was 80yrs when
she moved out of Bures to live with her Godson, Christopher Swan
in a beutifull Cedar House at Wasperton.
Parsonage was too large now for her to maintain and so she moved
away in order that someone else could manage her affairs
Christopher and his wife Marianne converted an annex for St Osyth
together with her housekeeper to live in.
Christopher was of a friend of Joyce Swan from Roedean.
He died in a car crash within a year of St Osyth's death. (Virginia
Osyth" by Neville Hume.
came from a wealthy background and never had to work
for financial reward. She was self-taught in many aspects
of embroidery and was highly intelligent. In the early
1950s Queen Mary invited her to lunch and to bring some
pieces of her work to Sandringham House having heard
of her work via one of her ladies-in-waiting who had
seen her embroidery in an arts and crafts exhibition
in Blakeney, Norfolk. St. Osyth worked two pieces of
silk embroidery for the Queen, one of which was a copy
of the centrepiece of her casket which was a portrait
of Queen Elizabeth the first. She also made a lot of
miniature furniture for the Essex Model house which
is on display in Braintree Museum. This entailed carpentry,
painting, upholstery and lacquering all in miniature
and was exquisite work.
awarded the OBE in June 1918 for her duties as Honorary
Secretary of the Essex Local War Pensions Committee.
She performed many duties in the 2nd World War and was
a generous benefactor to the village of Bures where
she and Thomas lived at Parsonage Hall virtually all
their married lives. She also supported artists in other
media - for instance Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.
Osyth was a very retiring and private person.
the last 3 years of her life in Wasperton, Warwickshire
sharing a home with her godson and his wife. They were
Christopher and Marianne Swann. Christopher was the
son of her school friend from Roedean.
She died on 1st
November 1970 in Wasperton and was cremated and her ashes
returned to Parsonage Hall. Christopher inherited her estate
but was killed in a car crash only 10 months later. St. Osyth
had put in her "Will" that her workbox and needlework
should be passed on to the Embroiderers Guild. This is now
kept in the archives of the Embroiderers Guild at Hampton
Located within the Palace are two craft organisations: the
Embroiderers Guild and the Royal School of Needlework
My link with St.
Osyth was via my parents who both worked for her when she
lived with her husband in Bures. My father (Alfred Hume) was
her chauffeur / gardener and my mother was her housekeeper.
After her husband's death in 1950, they moved into the Parsonage
Hall to help her to maintain the house. My brother and I therefore
grew up knowing her. She showed kindness and generosity to
both of us to help further our careers as she did to untold
just one of her many kind gestures was to donate the cost
for rebuilding the village hall in Bures in the early 60s
with a donation of some £7,500.
Coronation of Queen Elizabeth 2nd was held on 2nd June 1953.
To commemorate this event, St Osyth planted various plaques
on trees on the Recreation Ground.
would appear at the same event the Recreation Ground was renamed
the "St Osyth Playing Field"
see 1953 Coronation brochure>>>
Press, December 1948
Research by Alan Beales .webmaster
Death and Christian name information taken from Who`s Who.
Smith Dock Company info taken from Wikipedia
Acknowledgement to Amanda and Neville Hume, Virginia Smalley.
NUWSS information Courtesy
of Colchester Museum Resource Centre
of Thomas Smith:- Essex seax records: Recites: ...that Thomas Eustace
Smith, formerly of Wormingford Grove, afterwards of 4 North Hill,
Colchester, barrister at law, died 8 August 1936, seized of property
as above appointment of the vendors as executors of the will of
Thomas Eustace Smith, proved 19 November 1937