Mrs Becher's Diary


Vignettes – The Boutwoods, Charlesworths and Soames

Human personalities drift across the life of the village making their mark in a smaller or larger degree. It is amazing how even in a short space of time some of these can flash by like a comet and something tangible remains – something by which we are remembered individually.

The Boutwoods

There were the Boutwoods. He used to go to London every day in the 2 horse wagonette which was our only means of reaching the station. Sometimes they both came to early service – more often he came alone, and always at the Incarnation he would step right out into the aisle to make his deep obeisance. Those were the days when water was scarce and they lived in rooms in Victoria House. She used to tell me that she had to have hot water to bathe her eyes in the morning and her landlady did not always bring it to her in time.

The Charlesworths

Then the Charlesworths: His war experiences had left him with a weak head. Sometimes he would not know where he was and always a very small amount of drink made him quite tipsy. He had married a girl not of his own class who had come to the hospital where he was, to sing to the soldiers. They were young and generous but undisciplined and inexperienced and the marriage came to grief in a few years.

The Soames family of Ashwells

Following them to Ashwells Manor came the Soames. Arthur Soames came of a family where suicide was not unknown and at the full moon he was capable of abnormalities. She was a good looking society woman, tall and willowy with a falseness to her nature and a complete disregard for the truth. He was honest, downright and generous with a high opinion of himself, wishful of laying down the law and of running things his own way. In village life it seems difficult for men who have had army careers or run big businesses of their own to realize that Church matters are a thing apart. They can neither be run as a business concern, nor can business methods be absent from their deliberations. The schoolmaster, the slow uneducated farmer and their kind, the women who give their lives to helping in the Parish, all have their place and position in the heterogeneous company of men and women who make up Church life in a village. Many a man has come blundering in who thinks he knows all because he attends a place of worship once on a Sunday and has a sound knowledge of worldly business matters and yet is in blissful ignorance of the complicated life of the Church which is the most important and from which spring the humble loyalty of the majority.

One such said to me “A new broom sweeps clean” and in a few years his broom had indeed swept clean away the equable working of the Parish and in the empty place had come chaos, jealousy and disruption – and even tragedy. When Captain and Mrs Soames left the village it was common knowledge that they drove around and spat outside the houses where the inhabitants had particularly displeased them.