Sibford Scene Archive

Sibford Scene 438 November 2021

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A group of colorful flowers in a field

The Family of Fred Inns and the Town Estate Charity

The Town Estate Charity of Sibford Gower and Burdrop was founded in the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth by two old ladies who left the Sibford Heath Farm to the community to provide a school master, poor relief and for other village purposes; it is one of the oldest charities in England and has survived for four hundred years through Civil War, Commonwealth, several different monarchies, the Great Plague, and two World Wars, carefully administered by a board of local feoffees or trustees; the old village names of Gilkes, Soden, Inns and Hopkins recur throughout its history.

In 1668 there was a great dispute at the time of the restoration of Charles II; in 1772 we were one of the beneficiaries of the redistribution of land under the Enclosures Act. In 1891 there was a dispute about the status of the new elementary school, as to whether this was to be a Church of England School or a non-denominational one; the Non-Conformists won, which is why the primary school to this day is simply described as ‘Endowed’.

Our set of Minute Books is complete from 1836 to the present day, and there are many documents stored in the Oxfordshire History Centre in Cowley, Oxford. Prominent in the history of the last century has been the name of Inns. The first Frederick Inns recorded in our minute books was a Trustee from 1899-1909, his son served from 1919-1939, his grandson from 1944-1979, and his great-grandson from 1979-2020.

With the departure of our own Fred Inns 122 years of service to our charity has now come to an end. During that time, as the minutes record, the Inns family has protected the records (on one occasion almost burned by the village schoolmaster’s wife), and given wise advice on the running of the Farm and the distribution of our funds. For 42 years Fred was first a Trustee and then Chairman of the Trust; he was the Trust’s representative on the school governors, the repository of all our history and the great expert on the mysterious Ram that provides a perpetual water supply to the Farm. We shall miss his wise advice and his deep knowledge of the roots of our history in the local inhabitants of the village.

Fred, thank you for all that you and your family have done for the villages, and we trust we can look forward to still being able to call on you for advice to help us in the future.

Oswyn Murray,

The Men from Sibford who died during both World Wars

We will remember them …

1914 -1918 – ninety one men and women from the Sibfords served in WWI and eighty one returned safely. Here are some details from the SHS Archive of the ten men who paid the supreme sacrifice for our future.

GEORGE BODFISH served as a Lance-Corporal with 24th Battalion of The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry when he died, on 12th April 1918, from wounds received during the Lys offensive. He was one of eight children born to George and Mary Bodfish of Sibford Ferris. He worked as a farm labourer and in October 1917 he married Sarah Dumbleton and they lived in Hook Norton. After one week’s honeymoon he returned to his battalion. George died of wounds received defending Amiens behind the River Somme and never returned home to his wife and family.

THOMAS HENRY BORSBERRY was serving as a Private in the 5th Battalion, The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry when he was killed in action on 29th September 1915. He was aged 29 and is commemorated on the Ypres Menin Gate Memorial, having no known grave. Born in Hook Norton in 1886 he worked as a farm labourer with Sibford farm workers.

HORACE BURDEN was born in Brailes in 1886 to parents George and Emma Burden, but moved to Sibford Gower at a young age. He served on HMS Princess Irene which exploded when being loaded with mines for a mine-laying deployment. On 27th May 1915, Horace Burden was killed when his ship exploded and sank off Sheerness, Kent with the loss of 352 lives.

THOMAS DYER was serving as a Private in 12th Battalion, The Duke of Cambridge’s Own Middlesex Regiment when he was killed in action on 29th December 1916 aged 21. Thomas Dyer was born in Sibford Ferris in 1896 to parents John and Annie Dyer. At the time of his enlistment he was living at 6, The Colony and working as a farm labourer. He had also served with the 10th Prince of Wales Own Royal Hussars.

HORACE WILLIAM HAWTIN was serving as a Private in the 11th Battalion, The Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment when he died of wounds received on 10th October 1918, aged 21. Horace Hawtin was born in Sibford Ferris in 1897 to parents William and Caroline Hawtin, one of 6 children. He had previously served in The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

ARTHUR CHARLES HAYNES was serving as a Driver with “C” Battery, 68th Brigade, The Royal Field Artillery when he died of illness, in hospital in Alexandria, on 24th January 1918. He was aged 27 and is buried in the Alexandria Hadra War Memorial Cemetery. Arthur Haynes was born in 1891 in Sibford Ferris to parents Arthur and Jane Haynes and had worked as a farm labourer before the war.

HARRY LINES was serving as a Private with the 2nd Battalion, the South Staffordshire Regiment when he was killed in action on 30th August 1918, aged 23. Harry Lines was born in Sibford Ferris in 1897 to parents Joshua and Mary Lines. In 1910 he married Elsie Green and they lived at Gallows Hill, where he worked as a farm labourer. He had also served in The Prince of Wales’s North Staffordshire Regiment.

CHARLES DAVID WADE was serving as a Private in the 3rd Battalion, the Canadian Infantry when he was killed in action in France on 10th August 1918. As a private secretary to Frank Lascelles he was working with a film company in Paris when he signed up to join the Canadian Military. Frank Lascelles ensured that he was remembered in Sibford by having his name added to the War Memorial.

WILLIAM HENRY WEBB was serving as a Private in the 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Wiltshire Regiment when he died of wounds received on 5th December 1917, aged 20. William Webb was born in Sibford Ferris in 1897 to parents John and Mary Webb and before enlistment worked as a farm labourer. He had also served in The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

WILLIAM JOHN BARTON was serving as an Air Mechanic 2nd class with The Royal Air Force when he died of his wounds on 5th June 1918. He was 21 and is buried in Sibford Gower Holy Trinity churchyard. William Barton was born in 1897 to parents John and Julia Barton of Sibford Gower and had worked as an errand boy prior to the war.


HUGH ODDIE was born on 21 July 1914 in Croydon, the elder son of Sidney and Mary Oddie. His grandfather, Robert Oddie was a former Headmaster of Sibford School (1880-1906) and Hugh and his family frequently visited Sibford. As part of the Royal Airforce Volunteer Reserve, he served as a Pilot Flying Officer with the rank of Major. On 26 June, 1943 he was piloting his Halifax Bomber JB928 on a raid to Gelsenkirchen, western Germany when he was shot down by a German night raider over NW Holland. His heroic self-sacrifice saved the remaining six members of his crew who were able to bail out and all survived. He is buried in Bergen, Holland, but a stained-glass window in his memory can be seen in Holy Trinity Church, Sibford.

ARCHIE KAYE was listed as missing, presumed dead, on the beaches of Dunkirk during the evacuation of Allied Troops from France in June 1940. He was born in Sibford Ferris to parents William and Ann Kaye. Following the deaths of both parents, he joined the Royal Gloucester’s as a regular soldier in 1932. He served 7 years and was demobbed in February 1939. He was recalled in September 1939, went to France, and following orders to defend his post in Calais to the last man to protect the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk. With only 5 or 6 men remaining, he received a further order to make his way to Dunkirk to await evacuation back to Britain. He never returned to his young wife and daughter.

Maureen Hicks

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.