My first attempt was through a study group in the early ’60s which put on an exhibition in the Village Hall and in Solihull. Then about 1968, Margaret Argyle invited me to give a talk on village history to a women’s group. I was nervous but it went down well and I have never stopped talking since!
A new history group began in 1982 rekindling my interest. By 1989 I had filled several research notebooks during visits to various local record Offices. The Parish Council invited me to submit some ideas and agreed to sponsor my written work. We published two volumes called ‘Meriden its People and Houses’ and a pictorial guide book celebrating the Parish Council centenary. Since 2002 I have contributed to every Meriden Mag without a break.
One personal claim to history is that my husband and I were the last couple to be married at St Laurence’s, Meriden, Warwickshire a few days before the local authority changes created the West Midlands.
The current Parish Council has invited me to write some special articles for its website. Meriden’s history I believe to be very rich and colourful. It is my pleasure to make it available not only to residents but to a far wider audience using modern technology.
I have decided to use the name Agutter’s Quick for my history spot on the Parish Council’s web site. It is also the name of my own website. Why? Let me explain. In about 1379 John Atte Gotere, a forward looking freehold farmer, an antecedent of my husband’s, made a hawthorn-hedged enclosure in the Open Fields of his home village, Wollaston, Northamptonshire. This enclosure was known as ‘Agutter’s Quick’, a special place dedicated entirely to Agutter’s work, a ‘Quick’ being a hedge that grows speedily.
Meriden also had such enclosures. You can still see one if you look carefully. Stand in the churchyard looking at the rising hillside on the right hand side of the main road. About half way up the fields is the remains of a similar once square hedge. Mrs Barton told me it was called ‘Wimbledon’s Bin’. In the bin was good quality corn. The truth is perhaps more interesting. This small field was part of the vicar’s glebe, land on which he could grow a crop or rent it out. Wimbledon’s Bin is a corruption of WINSPE(A)R’S BING. Winsper or Winspear was Meriden’s vicar (1618-1629). This is also the man commemorated in Winspear’s Close, a road the council asked me to name. A ‘Bing’ was a small enclosed field; nothing to do with a search engine!
You will find a wealth of interesting and informative information on my new website – www.aguttersquick.com