Sibford Scene Archive

Sibford Scene 193 February 1996

Click on the cover image to download the complete edition

Text, letter

Oatley Hill- A realization

My first realization of Oatley Hill came shortly after my fifth birthday. I remember being stood in front of an easel in the main school hall. There were about a dozen other children and we were all strategically spaced like pawns on a chequered board, facing due South. Mrs Perrett, our teacher, came into the room and announced”that “Today we will all be drawing flowers“.

I suppose this was to be my first act of defiance, the first inklings of non-conformity. But I couldn’t help myself. I was in awe of it. The miles of gently undulating fields stretching up to it, the hill itself – the beauty of it.

Lord knows they were already there, the abrasions. My being plucked from the sanctity of my own front garden, my safe cocoon for the last five years – and now this.

The dark-suited headmaster, Mr Jack Walpole, was sent for. Words were exchanged. Oh, how I wish I still had that first sketch of Oatley Hill – rounded and crowned with magnificent elms.

Oatley Hill – A poem

Oh dominant when reaching crest,
And seeing forth the venerable best;
Crashing tumbling then flowing lands,
Stretching out like wave-worn sands.

Ancient trackways hedged with bine,
Reminiscent of more dilatory times.
Magic stones along the ridge.
Traitors Ford without a bridge.

Where soul and being are matched elated,
Meadow-sweet hay in fields ungated,
Freedom ascending, birds that trill,
Where on Earth but Oatley Hill.


Paul Eddington, 1927 - 1995

Most village people, if not all, will have heard of the death of Paul Eddington (alias Jim Hacker of Yes, Prime Minister fame) on November 4th, after a long and debilitating illness, bravely borne with tremendous courage.

What you may not know is that he was a Quaker and was a pupil at Sibford School during the ’39 – ’45 war. I recently met a New Zealander visiting the Meeting house, who was a fellow pupil and had lively memories of their schooldays together. Despite his busy acting life, Paul Eddington took a continuing interest in the school, its progress and activities.

Although radical in his convictions, he was a gentle, peace-loving man who found spiritual peace in the quiet Quaker form of worship and fully supported the Society’s stand against all war. Apparently one of his few criticisms of the TV scripts was when one poked fun at the Nuclear free zones that various local councils established throughout Britain in the sixties and seventies; he also refused to smoke when scripted to do so in the part. This was long before the present outcry against smoking and other harmful drugs.

Some of you may have seen him recently as Justice Shallow in the BBC’s production of Shakespeare’s Henry the fourth, where he played his part convincingly and with great fortitude. I’m sure that he also played his role in real life with similar courage. Had he been Britain’s real Prime Minister, I feel sure he’d have cut a very different figure from his TV image, and would have striven for true social justice and an end to the greed-ridden policies which afflict our divided country.

John Endersby

Above, you may see one or two items of historical interest from this edition. To see the whole edition, click on the front-page image to download it as a pdf.