Charing in the First World War Exhibition opens next Saturday, June 14th
Those who served – and those who fell; the family who lost three sons; a remarkable cure from a cigarette burn; the children who lost their schooling; the vicar who was a keen astronomer and a Knight of the Order of the Holy Redeemer of Greece; the contrasting fortunes of two butchers; the shopkeeper who would cut a sweet in half if the scale went over; children collecting fruit stones for the war effort; parcels for POWs; the effect of the new drinking laws introduced; the impact of the Spanish Flu epidemic; the struggles of farmers with farmhands enlisting, machinery and transport diverted to war needs; food prices and rationing; the Vermin Club; looking after billeted soldiers; peeling 200 potatoes a day in the VAD hospitals…..
All of this and much more can be found in the exhibition which starts on Saturday June 14th. Spread over 14 venues in Charing and Charing Heath the exhibition will run until July 23rd... June 14th-15th (Saturday 10.00am to 5.00pm; Sunday 2pm to 5pm) is the first open weekend when all information will be available and additional events will take place. (The second is July 5th-6th, same hours.) Outside the open weekends, venues will be open during their normal opening hours. Details can be found on www.charinghistory.co.uk
The First World War had a profound effect on Charing and Charing Heath. In addition to sending around 280 of its sons to serve and enduring its share of losses, the village ran two VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) hospitals, billeted troops (on three occasions for prolonged periods) and struggled with the impact of the war on agriculture and daily living. Venues will host displays appropriate to them – for example the Parish Hall will cover the two VAD hospitals of which it was one as well as how the village was run, the churches will concentrate on those who served particularly the fallen, Charing Heath Memorial Hall will look at how farmers coped with the loss of manpower, transport difficulties and the imperative to grow more particularly wheat.
In the Library (or the Church Barn on the afternoons of the open weekends) you will be able to find information about the village 100 years ago, where your relatives lived or who lived in your house.
Additional events will take place during the open weekends, particularly the Saturdays. On June 14th you will be able to hear a talk about the First World War, see and hear members of Portsmouth WW1 Remembrance Centre in costume and look at various exhibitions including a display of surgeon’s tools actually used at the front. Wander up the High Street and see what the shops were 100 years ago. And don’t forget to go to the school where schoolchildren will be giving presentations and showing off books they have made – as well as a model “war horse” inspired by the play. There will also be a quiz for children.
Finally don’t forget that in addition to taking its share of the WW1 exhibition, the Methodist Church will have an exhibition commemorating 200 years of Methodism in Charing and that Holy Trinity Church in Charing Heath will be commemorating its 140th anniversary.