Memories of an Ascott Martyr

Ivor

Ivor holding a photo of Fanny and her husband Edwin who died in 1929, the year of Ivor’s birth.

Fanny Honeybone was the youngest of the Ascott martyrs. One of her children was Millicent and we managed to talk to Millicent’s son, Ivor Townsend, at his home in Kingham (the same house where he was born in 1929). Fanny died in 1939 in the workhouse in Chipping Norton. Ivor did not go to Fanny’s funeral at Milton under Wychwood but does remember a ‘toff’ from the village taking Millicent in his car.

Ivor is the youngest of 11 children. He recalls going every Saturday afternoon with his mother by bike (on the crossbar of his elder brother’s bike) to visit granny in the workhouse in Chipping Norton although it was called a Public Assistance Institution! It accommodated 350 people and closed in 1946. He was scared of Granny in her house at Milton as she wore a cap and always seemed to be in the top window watching the world go by.

Ivor, who left school at 14 and joined his father as a porter at Kingham station, appreciates the work that the Ascott Martyrs Trust is doing in keeping his granny’s story alive. He spent the last 15 years of his working life on the railway as the signalman at Ascott where he often looked across to the Memorial seats on the Green where his granny’s name is misspelt as Honeyborm. Ivor thinks perhaps the Trust should take a look at that fact.

Ivor has two daughters who are keen to keep the memory of granny and the Ascott Martyrs alive. Fanny’s great granddaughter Tina says, “It is important for today’s generation to understand how desperately poor people were who lived in 1873 and how, through granny’s action, our lives are so much better today”.

Trust Update
We now have our official Trust status and a five-year plan leading to the 150th anniversary in 2023. We aim to research fully and tell the story of the 16 women who were imprisoned and which led to a pardon from Queen Victoria and changes in the law on picketing and the appointment of Clerical Magistrates. We need more researcher members; call Carol Anderson on 01993 831068 for more information. We hope soon to provide more information about the village green and we have just recorded a song of the story that will be filmed on location by the students of Witney College. The large commemorative textile is now hanging in the village church so do go and see the story and more information, also at www.ascottmartyrs.org.uk

Paul Jackson

February – March 2019