Saturday, July 30, 2011

Neen Savage

Neen Savage is where the protestants at the school went to worship on a Sunday. We would be marched down a long country lane to Neen Savage and were free to walk back at our leisure so long as we were in time for Sunday lunch in the main hall. On Facebook former pupils have shared their memories of Neen Savage.

The River Rea flows through south east Shropshire, and passes to the east of Cleobury Mortimer, before entering the Teme at Newnham Bridge in Worcestershire. Its waters reach the Bristol Channel, via the Severn. The upper stretch of the river is known as the Rea Brook. For a short stretch between Cleobury Mortimer and Neen Sollars the river forms part of the Shropshire-Worcestershire border.
The name of the river derives from a root found in many Indo-European languages and means "to run" or "to flow". The historic or alternative name for the river is the "River Neen" and there are various settlements along its course of that name or variations of it, such as Neen Sollars, Neenton and Neen Savage.

We'd start off from the school, marching to 6 Ashes -

The lane was very narrow with a view of the hills in the distance. I remember Rev DA Williams (Jake) commenting on the vista consisting of various shades of russet and how people no longer appreciate the beauty of the country side, take it for granted and don't notice the subtleties.

Above is the track before the Church where we ran down to the river on a Cross country run.

Neen Savage Church where the protestants at the school went every Sunday while the Catholics would attend service at Mawley Hall (later in Cleobury). Alan (Tanky) Thorn - housemaster / later deputy head is now buried there.

I remember the service being long and boring - half way through prayers we would look askance when the Vicar said "Now let us pray!" or announced the ' Te Deum' - 'haven't we already had enough tedium!" whispered one bright spark! The sermon seemed very mono-toned to some of us. On the odd occasion when Rev Williams (Jack) took the service, it was a lot more interesting. He knew how to hold interest and drew on his varied life experiences to illustrate a point and in that way brought it alive.

The church dates from the Norman period (1066-1154), although thanks to a fire in 1825 some of the church was now been rebuilt. A parish like Neen Savage usually formed around a village or other small settlement and used to be centred around the Parish Church.

Photo Paul Starling
Trev Teasdel   I remember going through that porch - the musty church smell, the long bench pews and the red faded prayer books, the whispering fellow pupils making witticism, the bald bearded dog-colored white robed vicar with loud monotoned voice; the 'now let us pray' in the middle of prayers and the Te Deum; faking the hymns and sermons that washed over you while thinking of home but left some residue you might remember on the long walk back up the country lane to Sunday dinner. I never believed in the man in the sky but felt there was some intelligence in nature making the flowers grow and diversify but the ethos of love, peace and human decency appealed. I much preferred it when Jake Williams took the service - how he could hold the audience and make you listen.

Photo Paul Starling
Photo keith Ison 2011

Ralph Aldhous
Who remembers the name of the Vicar. Big chap with a beard and a black cassock?

Tony Booton
The vicars name was Heywood Waddington at Neen Savage church.

Steve Webb His name was the Reverend Haywood-Waddington.

Rosemany Webb - Rehill But everyone knew him as Haywood-Waddy 

Peter Lund I remember volunteering to pump the organ so I could leave ahead of the rest of the school and have a ciggy on the way !

Paul Nicholas Williamson Peter, did that in 1962/3 pumping the organ up at Nene, ringing the ten minute bell then the five minute bell, but the best one was getting the incense going at Cleobury behind the organ with John Tearse and having a fag under the smell of the incense, didn't smoke much in those days but the thrill of doing something dam stupid was par for the course in those days. I was told not to swing the incense but I did and to this day I don't understand how it didn't come out onto the coconut matting up the main aisle of the church, by swinging it I mean over the head job, the full monty. Didn't do that again.

Sarah Williams The Vicar was called Heddy-Waddy because thats what the infant Jonti Rowland called him. H-W had a train set with a large track layout in the vicarage attic. His son was, lost it.

Ralph Aldhous I remember him saying 'Holy, holy, holy; Lord god of Sabaoth...' 

Trev Teasdel Apparently the church used to have a spire " The church is ancient but good; and has a tower, formerly surmounted by a spire, which was destroyed by lightning in 

Photo by Michael Billings c 1957

Ralph Aldhous Looks like a Sunday morning.

Paul Rees Off to church crocodile fashion if i remember?

Sarah Williams I've just remembered the Sunday morning sound of the churchgoers passing our house (the first on the right in the background).

Ralph Aldhous We used to have to wear our best uniform with a white shirt I think. We assembled in the playground first and marched off for few yards then broke up into a rabble.

Trev Teasdel  walking down to the church, the Rev Williams inspired a first tentative lyric - he evoked the senses, talking of the predominance of russet in landscape and the church bells sounds that varied in the wind. It was a bit surreal. I was into Paul Simon's lyrics at the time so his words helped set a scene for something lyrical.

Sarah Williams Bridge over Troubled Water - soundtrack to my university days.

Neen Savage church showing the course of the River Rea, which we ran along on cross country and past the 'haunted house'.

The vicarage showing the postbox on the wall

Close up of the post box on the Vicarage wall.

Onward down to the ford

Neen Savage ford - which was part of the Intermediate Cross Country route and a hang out after church.

Photo - Michael Billings
Photo Keith Ison

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Photo - Keith Ison

Photo Paul Starling


  1. I wonder why Tanky Thorne ended up in Neen Savage - my memory tells me his roots were Fishponds Bristol

  2. Hi to everyone who trekked down the steep lane to Neen Savage on Sunday mornings.
    Talking of Mr Thorne, a great teacher, encouraging many a student to take up rugby, once scuppered what we thought was an ingenious idea to miss church. If you were confirmed it meant you didn't need to attend the 10am service, having already attended an earlier service at 8pm. Unfortunately there was a sudden interest in our year to the idea of being confirmed into the church. Mr Thorne guessed the reason why and stayed stum. A large number of us got confirmed, feeling quite pleased with ourselves at outwitting the sytem. The sting in the tale was... Mr Thorne changed the rules' so we had to attend both sevices on Sunday and all newly confirmed students had to do the gruelling journey twice. You cannot outwit the system!