the online A-Z of Southampton's history.

Blessing the Waters from a Harbour Board Launch,
14 May 1950

Image Unavailable

101 years ago

On the 9 May 1920, the “Ancient Rogation Ceremony” of “Blessing the Waters” was “revived after the lapse of many years – probably of centuries” (Hampshire Advertiser 15 May 1920) in Southampton. In the calendar of the Church of England, Rogationtide runs from the fifth Sunday after Easter to the following Wednesday, the day before the feast of Ascension. Traditionally, this was a time to “beat the bounds” and pray for the fruits of the earth, and there had been a revival of such processions and ceremonies in rural parishes in the early years of the twentieth century.
The men behind the ceremony were Rev John Parmiter, the vicar of Holy Rood, and Rev A J Sinclair Burton, the recently appointed Port Chaplain for the Missions to Seamen, who had compiled the order of service “from ancient authors.” At 3pm, the procession left Holy Rood behind a cross bearer, boys from the Seamen’s Orphanage, and the Southampton Temperance band, after whom came another cross bearer, the surpliced choirs of the parishes bordering the water (St Denys, Northam, St Michael’s, St John’s, St Laurence and Holy Rood), and their vicars, Rev J T Costa of St Julien’s French Church, port chaplains, representatives of “the shipping world”, the mayor of Southampton in his role as Admiral of the Port, and finally more boys from the Orphanage. Boy Scouts formed a guard of honour at the quayside. After a sermon by Canon Lovett of St Mary’s, the Vicar of Holy Rood “advanced to the water’s edge and blessed ‘the sea and all that therein is’, and the assembled crowd sang ‘O God our help in ages past’ and ‘Eternal Father strong to save’, bringing an impressive and picturesque ceremony to an end.”

This year, 2021, Rogation Sunday again falls on 9 May.


Remembering the Southampton blitz day by day

See Air Raids, World War 2

11 April 1941
“People killed on Good Friday.” (Southern Daily Echo 12 April 1941) “Every bomb dropped did damage, and buildings which suffered included a hospital [Royal South Hants] and a church… While hundreds of people in the raided areas owe their escapes … to the fact that they sayed in their shelters, the majority of one big family were uninjured because they stayed indoors. . . where their shelter stood there is today a large crater.” Frederick Webb, of 202 Priory Road, heard the bombs falling and made his wife, daughters and grandchild get under the kitchen table. There was no room for him, so just sat in an armchair. All seven survived, even Frederick, but his son-in-law Francis Sidney White was firewatching in the garden.
Messenger Brian Reginald Vaughan (15), with the help of Norman Clifford Brewer (16), systematically and coolly rescued a woman and child buried under a house in Priory Road, shoring up the debris and, finding the woman’s head caught in the back of a chair, calling for a saw to cut away the rungs. He then released the child by cutting away the legs of the table.
Brian Vaughan received the BEM for his actions, and Norman Clifford Brewer received the King’s Commendation. Norman was killed in action on the 5 October 1944, aged 18, and is buried in Arnhem.
A parachute mine fell in the back garden of a terrace house in Derby Road: 120 houses in Derby Road and Northumberland Road were either wrecked or badly damaged. Two people received the BEM for their actions at this incident, and five were commended.
Cynthia Hutchings died at 240 Northumberland Road, along with her father’s ward John Pritchard, a welder’s assistant: her father said they “always refused to go to shelter during raids.” The rest of the family had gone to their next-door-neighbour’s shelter.
ARP warden Edward Ernest Service was Commended for showing great courage and initiative in tunneling under dangerous debris, in an attempt to rescue “Miss Hutchings and her step-brother.”
Rose Florence Warren had just two weeks earlier moved into 244 Northumberland Road having just been bombed out.
Winifred Muriel Caesar, a children’s nurse and ARP ambulance driver, was on duty at Mount Pleasant First Aid Post when parachute mines were dropped nearby. She immediately took her ambulance to the scene in Northumberland Road, helping to recover four or five patients trapped under the debris by digging with her bare hands. The raid continued, and on returning to the Post, she was sent to Priory Road for another casualty.
Albert William Bull (16), messenger, “a strong stiff-built lad” was going back and forth between the Northumberland Road/Derby Road incident and the first aid post, when he heard groans from a buried Anderson Shelter. He pulled the litter away with his bare hands and found a man, woman and two children inside. The woman and children were taken to the first aid post, with the help od Frederick Roach (15) , another messenger, and Bull brought the man (Mr Richards of 258 Northumberland Road) out using a fireman’s lift.
He also helped Maud Helen Tinsley, another ambulance driver, to extricate an elderly couple climbing over the rubble to reach them.
When these young men and women were recommended for awards following this incident, it was noted of all of them that this was not the only occasion when they had done “exceptionally good service”, as they had been on duty during the air raids of 1940. Albert Bull and Frederick Roach had been at the First Aid Post when it had flooded on the 1 December 1940. They were Commended for their actions. Miss Caesar and Miss Tinsley both received the BEM.
ARP wardens Roy Woodford, and Rudolph Sidney Albert Allen were also the on the scene, made more dangerous by broken gas pipes. ARP Roy Woodford crawled under the wreckage of 244 Derby Road to rescue Mr and Mrs Caplin and two others (Maud Tinsley was involved here as well). Rudolph Allen was a member of the St John’s Ambulance, instructed and supervised the wardens working with him in first aid. Roy Woodford and Rudolph Allen were Commended.
Archibald Frederick Broomfield, “a part-time ambulance driver, was among those killed. He had been on duty at the first-aid depot to which he was attached, but received special permission to return home early in view of a visit of some relatives.” His wife and two children were rescued from the ruins of their home in Bishop’s Road.
Also at 11 Bishops’ Road lived 85 year old Charles Cozens His death notice (Southern daily Echo 14 April 1941) says he was “late of Middle Road, Sholing”
and Home Guard William Richard Andrews, who died later that day at Royal South Hants Hospital. William’s brother Donald was home on 48 hours leave and was killed “returning to the house from the shelter in the back garden.”
Thomas Heaviside Buckle and his daughter Mary Elizabeth died at 17 Bishop’s Road.
Another Home Guard, Albert Victor Valentine Stephens, known as Vic, died at 17 Norwich Road, Bitterne Park
ARP warden Christopher Joe Wheeler received the BEM for his efforts at this incident, when “a parachute mine exploded and wrought great havoc in Norwich Road.”
Uriah Horace Eades died at 71 Bitterne Road, and Frederick James Mundy at the Corporation Wharf, where he was a sewerage engine driver.

12 April 1941
Hilda Blake died at the Borough Hospital from injuries received 11 April at 9 Norwich Road

April 2021

See this page for information about current library services and opening times.


Follow Southampton Cultural Services on Facebook at Southampton Stories

Look out for #ThrowbackThursday and #Maritime Monday on Southampton City Libraries Facebook page.

Have a look at the University of Southampton's Special Collections blogpost

Links to local history societies and other resources.

News and Events

Please note: due to Covid-19, events and activities may have been cancelled or postponed.

Bitterne Local History Society

City of Southampton Society

Millbrook Local History Society

West End Local History Society

Nursling and Rownhams History Group

Hampshire Genealogical Society

Getting Started

This is a community resource about Southampton's history and we very much welcome your participation.

Browse the site by clicking on one of the letters below, look at our list of themes or use the search box.

To make comments, contribute or suggest amendments/improvements go to the Contact page.

Sotonopedia last updated 7 May 2021

Browse A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y-Z