Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Skip find returned to village hall

A WOMAN who rescued a commemorative antique plate is planning to have it installed at Woodclyffe Hall in

A WOMAN who rescued a commemorative antique plate is planning to have it installed at Woodclyffe Hall in Wargrave.

Ann Roberts found the 100-year-old china plate in a skip at the back of the hall in High Street eight years ago and has held on to it.

The retired lawyer, who lives in Ridgeway with her husband Len, says it was one of a collection made for the hall by former owner Harriette Cooke Smith and is embroidered with a Woodclyffe Hall stamp.

Mrs Smith, who was married to Wargrave benefactor William Smith, was the daughter of the parish vicar and donated much of her own money to the hall, St Mary’s Church and the recreation ground.

She left the building to the Wargrave parochial church council when she died in 1904 and since then it has been used by community groups including the Wargrave Theatre  Workshop.

Mrs Roberts said: “Mrs Smith left a lot of equipment in the hall, including 300 chairs, dressing tables, scenes, curtains and footlights for the theatre workshop, an umbrella stand and gym equipment.

“Where it was all stored I have no idea because the storage room at the back of the hall wasn’t built then.

“She also left all the crockery and cutlery to be used in the hall and they had a Woodclyffe Hall mark on them.” Mrs Roberts was on lunch club duty at the hall and went outside to throw the rubbish away when she spotted the crockery at the bottom of the skip and most of it had been smashed.

“When I looked in I could see maybe 12 plates and a jug with the Woodclyffe Hall mark,” she said.

“There was one plate which was upside down but appeared to be in one piece. I stood on a chair and climbed in to rescue it.”

Mrs Roberts, who is a member of Wargrave Theatre Workshop, kept the plate, which was made in Stoke-on-Trent in the late 1800s or early 1900s, as a keepsake.

Last year, a portrait of Mrs Smith was tracked down at an auction and hung in the hall next to one of her husband. The portrait belonged to a former owner of Woodclyffe House in Henley Road, where Mrs Smith lived until her death, and had been passed on to the owner’s son in Waltham St Lawrence.

Mrs Roberts said: “When we found the portrait I said to Len that we could mount the plate underneath.

“I originally wanted it to be done before the annual parish assembly in April but we couldn’t get it framed in time.

“Since then I’ve found out that there are two or three other plates around the village. They were probably made in the early 1900s.

“If we came across anything else from the hall it would be nice but I can’t imagine there’s anything left now.”

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