No, I haven’t got too much time on my hands

As secretary of Bampton Twinning Association, I have plenty of tasks to perform apart from the usual production of minutes from our meetings.

The latest ‘task’ identified at our last meeting was to collate all photographs and souvenirs of our activities over the years as we thought it would be a good idea to present our French town with a ‘book of twinning memories’ over the years to celebrate our 40th anniversary next year.

At the same time, as the content of the Twinning website was lost into the ether, I volunteered (don’t laugh) to build a new one.

On Friday I was given some ‘cuttings de press’ – well it was a French newspaper – reporting the signing of the charter between the towns of Bampton and Villers-Bocage (en France).

It prompted me to dig out the minutes from the start of the association – all written down in pen in a big book – and see what happened in those days.

From the minutes I put together a potted history of the events from 1974 and have circulated to my twinning chums to whet their appetite.

Having spent a few hours undertaking the task, I thought I would burden the blog with the information as well. Hope you enjoy your first history lesson.






The first meeting to set up the committee was held on the 30th January 1974.


The appointments were made: –

Chairman                         Mr. D C Harwood (Windwhistle)

Honourable Secretary      Mrs. D Shore (Fore St)

Assistant Secretary          Mr. Stuart (West Lodge)


As executive committee was formed, consisting of the following: –


Honourable Secretary,

Chairman of the Bampton Parish Council                   Mr. D Cox,

Three Bamptonians               Mr. R J Kingdom, Mr. R Serenger, Mrs. Ellis,

+ A representative from each of the parishes of: –

Morebath                                                                   Mr. Hocking,

Clayhanger                                                                Mr. Cross,

Shillingford                                                                Mr. Ellis,

Oakford                                                                        ?


They discussed the signing of the charter with Villers-Bocage and planned to organize classes to learn French.


At a meeting on the 20th February it was agreed that representatives from the five parishes would be asked to attend the signing of the charter. Bampton Parish Council donated £50 to the Twinning.


At a meeting on the 20th March the Charter Ball had been booked for the 26th April. However, the representatives from Villers-Bocage said they would not be able to travel to Bampton until the weekend of the 11th/12th May. In anticipation of a visit to Villers-Bocage details on nearby Youth Hostels had been obtained.


On the 9th April, it was announced at the meeting that 35 people would be travelling over from France and that a coach would be sent to Exeter Airport to collect them.  Dinner at the Wishing Well followed by a film and slideshow was planned for the Friday evening. The charter would be signed on the Saturday and arrangements were made for the church bells to be rung during the morning.


At the meeting on the 30th April the numbers travelling from France had reduced to 15 and the mode of transport had not been confirmed. On arrival tea and biscuits would be served and the signing of the charter was to take place a day earlier on the Friday evening as the Gardening Club , consisting of about 50 people, were going on a trip on the Saturday. There would be a buffet in the evening on Saturday at the Wishing Well, cost 80pence each. Arrangements were made to contact the local press and TV about the charter signing.


By the 6th of May, there was still no word from Villers-Bocage on time of arrival or mode of transport.




On Friday the 10th of May 1974 the visitors from Villers-Bocage arrived in Bampton at 4:30 p.m. The Guides & Brownies served tea and biscuits. 

At 8pm the charter was signed and a free fork buffet was partaken by 130 people.


On the Saturday morning there was time to visit Barnhay and the church to see the bell ringers in action while they undertook a peel lasting 3 hours & 17 minutes, in honour of the visitors. At 11:30 a visit to Combe Head was made prior to lunch at the White Horse followed by a drive in the countryside. At 8pm a charter party was held at the Wishing Well.

On Sunday after attending morning service at the church, lunch was taken with hosting families and at 4pm the visitors , after a glass of champagne, departed.




At the meeting on the 10th June it was stated that the original plan for the French visitors was to leave Bampton at 7am on the Sunday to catch their flight from Exeter Airport. However, as events for the Sunday had been organized the visitors agreed to switch to a later flight time. This incurred an additional cost to the French of £60. Bampton agreed to pay the excess charge for them.

After the visit the Bampton Twinning bank account held 30pence although £15.50 had been borrowed from the council to settle all the bills.

This initiated the process of fundraising for the twinning, starting with coffee mornings and a jumble sale, which would hopefully clear the debts. A visit was planned to sign the charter in Villers-Bocage later in the year.


An Extraordinary meeting was called on the 6th September to discuss the visit to France. The coach would cost £15 per person and the options put forward for the gifts to take to Villers-Bocage were a plaque of the Bampton Badge (to be made by East Devon College),a framed coloured photograph of Bampton and six flagons of scrumpy.


By the 18th November the visit to France has taken place but no information is available apart from a few cuttings from the local paper in France.

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