Tag Archives: village hall

Biddenham Handbell Concert – 25th Anniversary

pastedimageWhat a wonderful way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Biddenham Handbell Ringers!  The Village Hall was packed for their anniversary concert with tickets sold out three weeks before. The programme was varied with pieces written specifically for handbells such as ‘Gift of peace’ by Cynthia Dobrinski,  with arrangements of Chariots of Fire and the Phantom of the Opera, and with more reflective pieces such as ‘Chanson de Matin’ by Elgar. Sandra Winter who attended the concert had written a piece for the occasion called ‘Bedford Glory’ in memory of Ralph West who with Anthea Slark founded the Biddenham Handbell Ringers. We also performed ‘Biddenham Bells’ which was composed by Tom Oldershaw, one of the ringers. A number of people commented on the enthusiasm of the ringers and their very high standard of playing.  The Barn Ringers also played well under the guidance of Ros Willis. We were treated to some beautiful and expressive playing on the clarinet by Andrea Heitzmann  who comes from Spain but is now teaching is Bedford. She  played a Spanish piece ‘Hommage a Manuela de Falla’. We were also privileged to have as a soloist Aidan Fozard who is an international handbell ringer and is one of the two conductors of the East Anglian Regional Handbell team. He played his Belleplates in a very skilful manner. What made the evening even more special was a delicious buffet supper which had been prepared by the ringers. Through the concert, we were able to raise a considerable sum of money for those suffering from Motor Neurone Disease  and from Parkinson Disease.  It was a very memorable evening and the Biddenham Handbell Ringers can look forward to performing in Exeter in April at the National Handbell Rally, where they have been selected as the team to represent the East Anglian Region in their  concert.

Paul Fricker (Director of Music)

Room for the troops in Biddenham

One hundred years ago a farm barn in Biddenham was converted into a new canteen and recreation room for the troops of the Great War, and its formal opening on Friday, 17 December 1915 was reported in the Bedfordshire Times and Independent of 24 December. When the war was over, the transformation of the former barn continued becoming eventually the Biddenham village hall villagers know and cherish today.

As the paper informed its readers, on Friday, 17 December a concert was held in the New Canteen and Recreation Room in Biddenham which was formally opened by Colonel C J Markham, Commanding the 205th Infantry Brigade (the 2nd Welsh Border Brigade and part of the 68th (2nd Welsh) Division). ‘In introducing Colonel Markham, Major Carpenter, Organising Secretary, referred to the generosity of the Trustees of the Biddenham estate, and Mrs Wingfield in the provision and alteration of the building, and the liberality of the tenant, Mr J Evans, who had given up possession of the building without compensation. The Organising Committee consisted of Captain Addie, Mrs Addie, Mrs Carpenter, Mrs Whitworth, Mrs Randall, Mr Herring (Secretary), and Mr Ingram (cashier), and several ladies offered their services as helpers. Gifts in kind had been received from Mr Whitworth (a piano), Mrs Carpenter, Miss Collie, Mrs Markham, Miss Howard, Mrs Spencer, Miss Street, Mrs Randall, etc, while the Bedford Borough Recreation Committee, through Mr Machin, placed at the disposal of the Local Committee many essentials in the way of furniture.

Colonel Markham said the canteen would be highly appreciated by the troops billeted at Biddenham.

An interesting programme was arranged by Miss Norman, those taking part including Miss Turner (Bedford), Lieutenant Markham (5th Northumberland Fusiliers), Misses Spencer, Miss Helen Norman, Mrs Piercy, Miss Joan de Roboek, and Private Knight. The canteen is open to all soldiers between 12 noon and 1.0 pm, and 4.0 pm to 9.0 pm on weekdays, and from 3.0 pm to 9.0 pm on Sundays. Concerts will be given, and sing-songs organised by Messrs Chibnall and King.’

Biddenham village hall, some 100 years after it was converted from a straw barn to be opened as a canteen and recreation room for soldiers billeted in the village
Biddenham village hall, some 100 years after it was converted from a straw barn to be opened as a canteen and recreation room for soldiers billeted in the village

(With thanks to the website ‘When the Welsh came to Bedford’ from which this post was reproduced)