Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Charles Briggs of Howden

Almost a month has passed since I last wrote here and a lot has happened in between. The snowdrops are now dying off and being replaced by daffodils. The bees are flying and seem to be  particularly enjoying the hellebores which apparently provide nectar for them at a time when little else is in bloom. Daffodils, I understand are too highly bred to provide much food for the bees but I have several varieties and will watch to see if the bees go on any of them. Looking forward to lots of honey this year.

 I am looking forward too to spending some time outside in the garden but it has been very busy on the history front. Last week I gave my presentation in Howden Manor House about its history and the history of The Ashes Playing field. It was a lovely evening - it rained but the atmosphere was friendly and the wine and cheese was popular.

 Towards the end of the talk, when I showed pictures of local people playing cricket, tennis and bowls and of Howden show, they stirred lots of memories. Although perhaps the picture which stirred most memories was one of the giant slide which I was assured was 40 feet high. I only went down it once as the climb up was quite frightening.

Here is the slide. Does anyone recognise the boys?



I am pleased to say that The Ashes Trust has asked me to give the talk again as several people have said that they would have liked to have heard it but did not want to come out on a dark, wet evening. So, if you are interested it will be on Friday 7th April in the afternoon. I am not sure of the timing as yet.

While researching the Ashes story I looked into the background of Charles Briggs who was the local benefactor who gave Howden the manor house, the Ashes and the Shire hall. I knew that he was born in Hailgate where his father ran a brewery. I had assumed that this was where he obtained the funds to give his gifts to Howden.


But I was wrong and am still finding out more about him. I think he and his brothers and sisters inherited property but he and one of his brothers were also civil engineers in the Kimberley diamond mines in South Africa.


Charles was the last surviving member of the large Briggs family and there were no descendants so  he left his fortune to Howden. He loved his native town and would, I think, be pleased that there is now a street named after him.


Charles Briggs

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