A multi-Lane byway.

The final afternoon of Diamond Jubilee festivities begins in the village of Kings Bromley.  A member of Kings Bromley Historians is vigorously polishing brass plaques in the Village Hall, the larger of which reads:

“This Church Institute was erected by subscription, A.D. 1914, as a memorial to the Very Reverend Ernald Lane, D.D. , Dean of Rochester and sometime Archdeacon of Stoke on Trent”

Around and about this last minute housekeeping activity, scuttled a bevy of ladies of the Womens’ Institute, preparing to host an Afternoon Tea.  The doilied plates of scones and cupcakes presented themselves like colour illustrations from a vintage “Book of Baking” and each table was dressed with a hand embroidered cloth and a jam jar of artfully arranged garden flowers.  Despite the fact that the voice of Doris Day was actually emanating from my iPod, which is perched on the piano in the corner, it could have been 1952.

Who was the obliquely named “Ernald”, and what did he look like?  We didn’t have long to wait to find out. The guzzling and scoffing of scores of decorous villagers and a few dratted, cake purloining “William Brown” style boys (who seemed to belong to no-one) was to be interrupted by a ceremonial unveiling.

Behind that swiftly mounted blue velvet curtain lay the portrait of Ernald Lane in ecclesiastical garb, purchased “by subscription” by Kings Bromley villagers and organisations from what was explained to us was the “internet auction site”, eBay ;).  This work of art was once in the collection of the actor Derek Nimmo, who obviously enjoyed, as I do, fond memories of his trademark portrayals of naive clergymen who inhabited  situation comedies back in the black-and-white days.

The ancient Lane family moved from Bentley, near Walsall to Kings Bromley Hall many, many years ago.  Co-incidentally, my mother, now a resident of the village, has made the same journey.  She was born in 1929, the year that the old Lane family home, Bentley Hall was demolished.  Her childhood was spent living a few hundred yards away in a – then – new council house with her parents and her four siblings.  The M6 hadn’t been dreamed of, and Bentley “Moor” was where your dad went to catch rabbits to augment a meagre depression-era diet.

Back in the 60’s, visiting my mother’s mother, my gentle Granny Sheldon – as she watched the wrestling on Saturday afternoon TV – I was bemused by the road-sign “Lane Avenue”, on the thoroughfare abutting Friezland Road.   It made no sense to me at the time, and,as I read it, “Avenue Road…Street Crescent….” et cetera, used to roll through my mind.  Much later, I became aware of the Lane family, and the tale of Lady Jane Lane’s assistance to King Charles II after the Battle of Worcester in 1651, as he escaped to Bristol disguised as her servant.  Despite the building of the motorway, and the general unloveliness of the area, Bentley now has a whiff of romance about it for me!

Ernald Lane was born in Kings Bromley Hall in 1836, made a fine career for himself in the church, and was obviously held in some esteem by the denizens of his birthplace.  Kings Bromley Hall was also demolished in the 1920s, and the family is virtually extinct.  Nevertheless, to prove their reverence for the village’s heritage, the Historians tracked down a Mr Lane with a suitably patrician demeanour and a proven genetic relationship to Ernald, should their family trees be drawn back to the 18th century. Mr Lane unveiled the portrait, said a gracious, well enunciated few words, and presented some family documents to the village, which was kind.  He and his wife didn’t touch their cream teas, though.

Dean Ernald Lane, by Aubrey Waterfield

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5 Responses to A multi-Lane byway.

  1. Pedro says:

    I had passed through King’s Bromley on a number of occasions on the way to the Peak District, but it was not until 2007 that we actually walked through. Approaching the Church of All Saints as seen here…


    …we met a man who was mowing the lawn in front of the Church. We had a lengthy conversation in which he told us of the problems encountered by the number of lorries that used the road. Eventually we entered the churchyard and found a nice spot for a cup of tea. I turned to my old mate and he was smiling. We did not have the heart to tell him that they had placed Spaghetti Junction in our back yard!

    Best wishes Peter

  2. That is amusing, and typical of Kings Bromley, which is “parochial” in all senses of the word, for good and ill! Sorry to hear about Spaghetti Junction, Peter! A great and interesting feat of engineering to view in passing, but not to suffer the noise from, I’ll be bound!

    Thank you for linking to your pictures.

  3. Earl Leofric of Mercia is recorded in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle as having died in his “Summer Palace” at Kings Bromley in 1057. He wife was the legendary “Lady Godiva”……No reason to suppose that the present church, with its origins only a century or two later than this should not stand on the same footprint as an older place of worship from their time, and that if you walk up to the church door, you are treading the very path that her kid-leather slippers trod!

  4. Pedro says:

    King’s Bromley Church Fete (Lichfield Mercury 19 June 1936)

    The heavy rain on Saturday made kinder weather than usual for the annual Church Fete at King’s Bromley!

    For the last four years the weather for the fete has inspired enough confidence for the stalls and sideshows to be errected in the Vicarage Garden, but by the time the fete begins, down comes the rain, and there is a great rush to get everything into the vicarage.

    But this year the rain came down steadily all Saturday morning, so that the fate was arranged at the Institute!

    Mrs Harrison of Wychnor opened the fate.

    In his opening remarks the Vicar (Rev ET Allen) said they were particularly grateful to Mrs. Harrison, as unfortunately, she had not been well, and had more than most people would consider a sufficient excuse not to come.

    The object of the fete, he said, was to balance the Parochial Church Council’s budget, which included running expenses, the quota of ambition, half the vicarage dilapidations payment, a grant to the Institute, and various outside objects. The council estimated that £40 was needed from the fete.

    The sum of over £200 they were trying to raise to get the bells put in order was an independent fund, and once the budget was balanced there was nothing to prevent all their efforts been directed to finding the remaining £130 needed. He hoped to get it this year, so the order could be placed in time for the bells to be used for the Coronation.

    Mrs. Harrison said she was glad to come, not only because she had promised last year, but also because she was glad to see so many people there, and because with Mrs Thompson’s leadership King’s Bromley, had helped her with the Personal Service League.

    Major Thompson, in thanking her, said she had once belonged to King’;s Bromley, and they were glad to welcome her.

    Miss Audrey Oldham then presented a bunch of pink carnations to Mrs. Harrison….

    (The article goes on and mentions names that may be of interest, if anyone is interested I will complete.)

    • How interesting! You would be amazed how littler changed the mores and preoccupations of Kings Bromley remain, Pedro.
      Yes, Mrs Edith Harrison, nee Gardner, seems to have been a child of Kings Bromley, living, in infancy, in an unspecified dwelling in Alrewas Road. Her father, Herbert Gardner, was a second generation lawyer who seems to have done well, as at his later dwelling, “The Tower”, Armitage, the family kept several servants.

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