Recollections of Finmere

Newsletter 4. July 1997.

Do you have old photographs of Finmere or memories of the village and villagers years ago? In this newsletter, we tell the story of a Finmere family based on photographs, memories and records. We’d like to tell similar stories in future newsletters. We are interested in all photographs. It only takes us a short while to copy and return them, so please get in touch.

The Cliffords

Barry Cranfield, drawing on information and photographs from Joan Critchley, has researched the Cliffords.

The Cliffords probably arrived in Finmere late in the eighteenth century. They are not mentioned in 1641 when villagers were forced to swear an allegiance to the Protestant faith. Neither are they mentioned in the 1665 Hearth and Fireplace taxes nor the 1764 record of Finmere poor on the Stowe estate.

The first Clifford we know of is George, who married Mary Poole in October 1793. Six years later, their son, William, was buried on 26 March 1799. John and Mary were not the only Cliffords in the village at this date: Mary Ann, daughter of John and Elizabeth, was christened on 8 March 1801.

The 1840 Tithe Map records that the family rented houses at the end of Fulwell Road:

Ethel Clifford

We know rather more about more recent members of the Clifford family. Ethel Clifford (below) was one of eleven Clifford children who lived in the left-hand portion of what is now Long House in Mere Road. Her father, Thomas, is pictured below. This picture was taken during World War 1. In 1920, at the age of twenty-one, Ethel married Harry Bennett from Brackley at Finmere church.

Floss Clifford

Florence (Floss) Clifford was Ethel’s sister. She was confined to a wheel chair for many years and is pictured here in the village. Do you recognise where the picture was taken? The gentleman in the Trilby was believed to have worked at Phillips in Buckingham. Does anyone know his name?


  The picture below was taken outside the Red Lion on what is now the main road. Freeman’s Petrol Station can be seen behind.
An Early Death

This third picture was taken about 1930 and shows Floss with several girls from the village.

They are: (clockwise from lower left) granddaughter of Mr and Mrs Hollyoaks who ran the sweet shop (now Well End, Mere Road); Edna Freeman, daughter of the proprietor of Freemans Petrol Station; Floss; another Hollyoaks granddaughter; Vidy Freeman, sister to Edna; Phylis Freestone who lived in a now demolished house in Mere Lane; Joyce Freeman, sister to Edna and Vidy. Phylis Freestone’s father was a signalman at Finmere Station: she later married Gordon Hutt and now lives in Water Stratford.

Sadly, Florence Clifford did not survive her illness.



The Cliffords at War

The picture below was taken about 1914. Arthur (left) and Will Clifford stand in their new uniforms shortly after enlisting in the South Nottingham-shire Hussars. They are posing with their proud father, Thomas, always known in Finmere as “Tommy-Dodd”. Will, the eldest of his eleven children did not return from the battlefields. Arthur was at one point Second Horseman to Colonel Trotter of Barton (Hartshorn) Manor. Apparently, Second Horsemen were not allowed to marry. When Ethel Tasker from Tingewick said “Yes” to his proposal he promptly found alternative employment as a baker and deliveryman for the Tingewick Co-op. He delivered his wares to the surrounding villages, including Finmere, by horse and cart and shared his workload with another baker, Tommy Beale, father to Nelly Jones.


A Clifford Wedding

Our final picture was taken at Warren Farm around 1926 on the occasion of the wedding of Alice Clifford to Thomas Harris, a bricklayer from Buckingham. Thomas and Margaret, her parents, can be seen immediately behind the happy couple. Joan Chritchley, Thomas Clifford’s granddaughter, is at the right, aged two years.

Our thanks to Joan Critchley for her memories and photographs and to Trevor Preece of Gawcott for scanning the photographs.