The Village Green

When I came to Tanworth in 1958 the green in the centre of the village was a scruffy piece of grass with the War Memorial and an ancient and decaying horse chestnut tree which had been planted to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.   There were no curbs. The road through the village was the High Street but residents just put Tanworth as their address. But, the part from Aspley House to the Ivy Stores was known to older residents as Western Avenue.  I wondered why. Talking to Bob Bradburn, an old gardener who had once worked for Mr. Hoseason (who paid for the Village Hall circa 1926), I found out that, where the grass was, there had once been houses and a well. Towards the end of the nineteenth century increasing traffic found difficulty in travelling through the narrow streets so the houses were demolished and the well sealed off. I believe Lord Moncrieff, the rector at the time, was much in favour of this move. Some years later, using two pieces of copper wire as divining rods, I found the position of the well. It is half way along the side of the green, facing the Church – hence the name Well Lane.  So, the grass in the centre of the village is not a traditional village green. The land was purchased by the Flowers family who later gave it to the Parish Council to ‘use and garden as they wish’.

Some years later, notices saying ‘High Street’ appeared. Local residents disliked living in a High Street so petitioned for the signs to be changed to The Green. So, the name, The Green is not a traditional one. The old tree became dangerous and was removed. A new, pink-flowered horse chestnut was planted by Bob Bradburn’s son. (His father had planted the original one). It soon died as the Council, in their wisdom, had not replaced the old worn-out soil. The soil was replaced and a new tree planted which was just coming to maturity when it contracted bleeding canker, a disease specific to horse chestnuts, for which there is no known cure. So that tree had to go. The present tree is a sweet chestnut which, in spite of its common name, is no relation of the horse chestnut. It is not a native tree but has been grown here since the seventeenth century.

Written by Sylvia Stanton

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