I was a near-neighbour of Sydney’s for forty years, but only got to know him in the later years of his life. After he developed a heart problem he took to walking and would cover miles around the Parish. Gradually these long walks shortened, until they became a circuit of the Common. He was always happy to stop and chat as he walked round, and it was on one such occasion that he told me a little about his family connections with the village.
Sydney’s grandfather was the miller at Grove Mill, and he was in fact the last miller to work the Mill to produce flour. The Puseys had come after, but they were farmers, and used the mill to store grain etc. Grandfather also owned a windmill at Cholesbury, he thought, and two water-mills in High Wycombe. One of his sons worked one of the water-mills, and when the wind blew hard he would come over quickly in the cart to give his father some much-needed help.
The Common in Sydney’s young days was fenced, so that animals could be turned out to graze. There were often sheep on it, and someone used to graze goats – though these were tethered. What is now the levelled grassy area was in those days covered in old clay diggings – dips and mounds – grassed over and with small bushes. There was not a single flat area anywhere. Barracks Hill, where Sydney and I stood talking, was a rough road made of flints. The garden of his house (Nightingales) used to be the site of a pottery.
On another occasion I asked him about the old ‘Fleur de Lys’ pub whose landlord was Walter Wingrove. He recalled that the neighbours in the cottages there were Bricky Blakely and the Slades. The Slades were the blacksmith family. They had eleven children, and all of them big people. They made up a football team between them! The cottages each had only two bedrooms, and shared an outside water tap.
Only last December I met Sydney opposite Grove Mill, and we looked down onto the open grassland of the Common. He said that before that area was levelled in the 50’s, the water from the spring at Wheatsheaf Cottage used to flow across the Common in a narrow bed, to disappear into the dell above Dell Cottage. This stream never dried up. The pump (now in the garden of Wheatsheaf Cottage) was used by the villagers, and Sydney remembered Albert Bates walking up the Common from Thornbury Cottage every day, returning with two pails of water carried on his yoke.
I shall miss those meetings. Sydney had such a love for Coleshill, and such knowledge of what is now a bygone age.
Chris Wege (2005)
OBITUARY IN VILLAGE NEWSLETTER
SYDNEY CECIL WARE 1916 – 2005.
Born in High Wycombe in 1916, Sydney Ware moved to Clivia in Coleshill as a young child. His grandfather had been the last working miller at Grove Mill. He attended the village school and formed lasting friendships with his neighbours the Puseys and other village children. At 14 years old he cycled daily into High Wycombe Tech where he trained as a cabinetmaker. This was a skill he put to good use when renovating our homes.
Aged 21 and seeking further experience, he joined the Colonial Police Force. He was posted to Palestine in 1937. The first few years were idyllic, the people were friendly (he liked the Palestinians) there was plenty of sport, especially cricket his great love, and a good climate. In the final years before the formation of the State of Israel, the situation became much more dangerous and as a young man he experienced gross violence and the loss of some close friends.
In 1948 he was moved to Malaysia. On one of his occasional visits home on leave he met Ann, then married to his best friend David Pusey. On a subsequent leave David had tragically died, leaving Ann with two small children, Loveday and Peter. He and Ann became very close and they married in Coleshill Church in 1955. She and the children moved to Malaysia. He took a demotion from his command in the jungle to be in Kuala Lumpur so they could live together as a family.
After independence in 1958 they returned to Coleshill. Now with the responsibility of three children, despite doing extremely well in his civil service exams, he declined a job in London preferring to work locally.
After his adventures abroad he enjoyed village life. He became a keen gardener, developing his own garden at Clivia and later Littlelands, as well as maintaining All Saints’ churchyard. He rejoined the church choir, and became clerk to the Parish Council.
As a father of four children he was not ‘hands on’ in the modern sense, but he was a wonderful role model of decency, politeness and punctuality. Above all was his undying love for Ann. In later years he took tremendous pleasure in his extended family and great pride in the achievements of his children and grand children.
Jenny Clarke (daughter)