Julia Letts, Oral History Producer, has been involved with the Hardwick Green Meadows Project since its start in 2018. Here she provides text, audio clips and photographs from two members of the community who were interviewed as part of the oral history side of the Project.
Archaeology, soldiers and panthers at Hardwick Green
Pat moved to Corse Lawn in the early 1980s. She taught history at a Cheltenham school and was quickly persuaded to join an archaeological survey of the Eldersfield parish organised by local academic Peter Price. Pat and a small team of friends methodically field-walked many meadows looking for evidence of Saxon and medieval settlements. They didn’t find much but their knowledge later helped with a Home Office survey during the Cold War. Pat explains how they identified the fields they wanted to study and sought permission to do so.
(recorded shortly before his death in 2019)
Tom grew up at Hardwick Court, which his family had moved to in the early 1930s. Their fields adjoined the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust’s newly acquired Hardwick Meadows. In Tom’s childhood, most of the farming was done by horse and Tom remembers the Hardwick cart horses, Boxer and Johnny. The first tractor arrived in 1938, just before the war. During the war, a family from Cheltenham was evacuated to Hardwick Court and lived in one part of the house. Tom recalls seeing black American soldiers for the first time and hearing - if the wind was blowing the right way - strains of Glen Miller coming from the American airbase at the Berrow.
Tom's wartime memories...
In the 1960s Tom believes there was a large black cat living in the fields around Hardwick. He never actually saw it but found huge paw prints around his sheds.
Tom's memories of a panther...
This project has been funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.