September Talk

Alan Pilbeam gave a fascinating talk last week on the Royal Progress through Gloucestershire which took place in 1535. He outlined the different interests of King Hey VIII, Ann Boleyn and Thomas Crowell. The last section was some photographs showing the palaces and monasteries where they stayed, which including some interesting facts about deer parks.

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      Llancaiach Fawr

  Members went on a coach trip to Llancaiach Fawr manor near Merthyr Tydfil in July. This is a medieval manor house set in the time of the Civil War in the 17th century.  The house is complete with period furniture, household implements and servants in each room.  They were all dressed in period costume and told us about there work and answered questions. All of this as if it was still 1652. It was like going back 350 years. 

      Staffordshire Regiments Museum

In August members visited the Staffordshire Regiments Museum near Lichfield. After tea and coffee served in NAAFI mugs we were given a guided tour around some World War I trenches complete with sound effects. The tour concluded with everyone sat in a cramped, dark World War II air raid shelter while an air raid was going on. Very realistic.

Afterwards we spent a couple of hours visiting Lichfield where some members went around the Cathedral.  A slight problem occurred on the return journey when the coach would not start.  However another coach soon arrived with some jump leads and got us moving again.  

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Pandemic News


Newent Local History Society will continue its 2022 programme on 10th March Thursday at 7.30pm prompt

The AGM will be followed by Newent Court and the People who lived there by Dood Pearce

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Award for Chairman

Dood  has been awarded a 2021 Award for Personal Achievement in Local History by the British Association for Local History and this was awarded at the Local History Day on 12th June 2021. Congratulations !

One of the reasons that he won this award was for the many articles he wrote for the membership while there were no meetings. The last one on Newent Postal Services – see below

Newent Postal Services

Pre-paid postage came into being in 1840.  Before that mail had to be paid for by the recipient.  In 1770 a Post messenger was drowned in floods between Newent and Gloucester.  In the 1820s letters were carried by horse mail which left Newent for Gloucester each morning at 8-00am and returned at 4-00pm.  Before pre-paid postage was introduced in 1840 there were two Newent Postal stamps (fig.1).


      Fig.1 One of the pre-1840 postal stamps for Newent “NEWENT 117” can just be seen.


Fig 2 A Penny Black postage stamp introduced in 1840.


Fig.3  A stamp with the Newent post mark 1905.

Thomas Hartle was the original postmaster and saw the introduction of pre-paid post. He remained in the position until 1854 (aged 89) assisted by his daughter Jane.

James Cooper Bisco took over as Postmaster on 4th February 1855 and was the first of a long line of Biscos who ran the service for over 100 years until 1983. He was primarily a cordwainer making and repairing shoes and ran the post office from his shop. Fig.4  shows a bill dated 1862 for his services but with the address as the Post Office.


Fig.4   A bill by James Cooper Bisco dated 1862


       Fig.5 The first post Office at 8 Church St. in 1855.

The first Post Office was at No.8 Church Street.  James Cooper Bisco married Charlotte MacDonald and when he died in 1864 she took over as Post Mistress.  Then in 1880 their son James and his wife Mary Ann continued the business.  When James died in 1900, Mary Ann moved to Broad Street into what is now Falcon Court, with her son Robert Harry (Fig.6).  In 1918 the family moved to the Red House, opposite St Mary’s Church and this has been the Post Office ever since.  It is called the Red House because it used to be covered in Virginia Creeper giving it a distinctive colour in the autumn.  Mary Ann worked there all her life and died behind the counter in 1936. 

Mrs Elizabeth Rogers, the daughter of James Cooper Bisco, was the first telephone operator in Newent. The telephone arrived in 1910 with the post office being number 1. Number 2 was the local doctor and number 3 was the George Hotel.  She died in 1919. 


            Fig.6  The post office in Broad Street 1900-1918.