WEA Local Studies Group
In 1995 John Raybould tutored a WEA course entitled "The Changing Village". It covered the last hundred years, and focused on Helmdon. His enthusiasm lingered after the course was over, whetting the appetite for further historical research, and several members of the original class formed themselves into a Local Studies Group. At the beginning, Val and Stewart Moir, Judy Cairns, Audrey Forgham (fomerly Harwood), Jean Spendlove and the late Will Watson were the main members.
In Spring 2000 two new members, Danny and Kate Moody, joined the group, both very interested in the difficult-to-unravel early history of Helmdon. From the outset, the group felt that what was researched should be recorded so, steered by Ross Vicars in the early years, and then by Audrey Forgham, a series of booklets entitled 'Aspects of Helmdon' were published between 1997 and 2008. Click here for more information about 'Aspects of Helmdon'.
Helmdon's Original Village Website
The creation of a Helmdon website was first mooted in 1999. Maintained by the Helmdon branch WEA with Danny Moody as Webmaster and Audrey Forgham as Website Editor, the website www.helmdon.com became a very comprehensive resource for the whole village. Please click here for more information.
Over the years there have been many leaflets, newslettters and online publications to keep villagers, and the local community, informed. Some of these were published by the WEA Local Studies group. Click here for more information (on this website)
War Memorial Project
2014 was the 100th anniversary of the First World war and in November 2014 a War Memorial project was published on the website to find out more about the history behind the names of the servicemen on the Helmdon War Memorial. The document was subsequently updated in 2016. Please click here for more information / to view or print the latest version.
In 1997-8 the group, under the direction of Val Moir, transcribed the inscriptions in the parish church, churchyard, chapel, war memorial and elsewhere round the village. There are over 500 entries, beginning in the mid-seventeenth century. Where possible the most appropriate entry in the burial register has been added.
In 2013 a group reformed to make a random list of all new the grave inscriptions in the churchyard since 1997. (Hard copies are with the church, the WEA and the school.)
2016 saw the completion of a new project, to list the graves in rows combining the graves with pre-1997 and post 1997 inscriptions in the newer arm of the churchyard, to the left of the church path. The rows have been re-numbered. Judy Cairns did the bulk of the research, Bill Elkington made a map, Conrad Woolley checked the rows and Audrey Forgham typed the project for the website. Printed copies have been given to the church.
The Memorial Inscriptions page (on www.helmdonhistory.com) gives a complete listing of all the memorial inscriptions found at the church and around the village. There is also a plan of the churchyard made in 2016 which shows the location of the various gravestones.
2016 was the year when the combined WEA / church project to catalogue all the church kneelers was completed. Jenny Overson and Mary Nash did the bulk of the research, Colin Nash took the photographs and Audrey Forgham typed the project for the website.
Albums will be placed in church for all to look at. The Kneeler Project page (on www.helmdonhistory.com) shows a complete listing of all the kneelers with photos and descriptions, etc.
Village Film - Helmdon 1999
The Helmdon WEA branch have made a film called "Helmdon 1999 - A Year In The Life Of A Village". It was shown to members in April and over 200 Helmdon residents in June. The filmmaker, Richard (Willy) Watson, has been highly praised for his work in putting the film together, which portrayed the activities in the village throughout the year - the Carnival, the Remembrance Day service, the pantomime, the school sports, the Women's club meetings, and so on.
The film has been made for posterity, for people to look back at in say, fifty years time, and find out what made a village "tick" at the turn of the millennium. It will be sent as a video disc to the Parish Council and to the Northamptonshire Record Office, together with a typescript to explain more about the activities.
Willy Watson had the support of the local studies group, Judy Cairns, Cec Harrold, Audrey Forgham née Harwood, Val and Stuart Moir, Jean Spendlove and Liz Woolley.
The Helmdon Village film was partly funded by the National Lottery.