Click here to return to the main site entry page
Click here to return to the previous page
Rushden Echo & Argus, 24th August 1934, transcribed by Kay Collins
Mrs T Patenall, M.B.E.
Thirteen Times Mayoress of Higham Ferrers
Splendid War Service

Higham Ferrers has been plunged into the deepest sorrow by the passing of Mrs Clara Poynton Patenall, M.B.E., wife of Ald. Thomas Patenall, of "Bron Dinas," Higham-road, Rushden.

Clara PatenallMrs Patenall's death occurred in Northampton General Hospital at 5.15a.m. on Higham Feast Sunday, and resulted from an illness which commenced on August 2nd.

In the official history of Higham Ferrers Mrs Patenall held a unique position, for she had been Mayoress no fewer than 128 times; and as Commandant of the Higham V.A.D. Hospital during the Great War she played an equally memorable part. No member of her sex has won greater distinction in the life of the borough, and few can have been held in more general regard and affection.

A native of Lincolnshire, she came to Higham Ferrers in 1883 as Miss Clara Poynton Joll, and for a time kept house for her brother. Her marriage to Mr Thomas Patenall took place on September 23, 1884, and the golden wedding anniversary would thus have occurred next month.

Son a Mayor

Mr Patenall was destined to play a remarkable part in the municipal affairs of the borough, and his 13 appointments as Mayor are a record for Higham, and cannot be far from a national record. Mrs Patenall was thus Mayoress in 1900, 1906, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1920, 1923, 1924, and 1928.

Another proud moment of her career was in November 1930, when her elder son, Mr H R Patenall, was elected mayor.

In 1924 an alderman described her as "one of the finest ladies that ever lived," and in 1928 Alderman T Patenall, who had then been a councillor for 40 years, said he knew of no lady in the world who had done more to assist her husband.

These were just tributes, for Mrs Patenall combined with warm-heartedness and sympathy much practical commonsense and ability. She could grave a public occasion, organise events for churches or charities, and work as hard as those who so gladly supported her.

Undoubtedly the greatest service that she ever rendered to the community was as commandant of the Higham Ferrers V.A.D. hospital during the Great War. Higham was a small town for selection as a V.A.D. centre, but when the call came in 1915 it was answered magnificently.

Caring for "Tommies"

The Parish Rooms were converted into a hospital, Mrs Patenall was in command from first to last, and the example she set by her confidence, her brightness and her absolute devotion made the establishment of great value to the country.

Mr and Mrs Patenall closed their house so that they should be free to give practically all their time to public service. They earned the gratitude of hundreds of "Tommies" and official recognition came soon after the war, when Mrs Patenall was decorated with the Order of the British Empire.

Mrs Patenall was for many years Lady Supt. Of the Higham Ferrers Nursing Division (Order of St John) and received official recognition on two occasions. She was treasurer of the Higham Nursing Association since its inception, and only retired last year, on account of her accident. For some time she was a Governor of the Wellingborough high School for Girls.

It was during the war years that Mrs Patenall launched her market day charity schemes, and on the first occasion the receipts went to the British Red Cross Society. From those efforts has sprung the celebrated annual Market Day for Northampton Hospital and other institutions.

Work for Methodism

Mrs Patenall was one of the loyal members and greatest supporters of the Higham Ferrers Methodist Church. She hardly ever missed a service; she supported her husband in his work as a church and sircuit officer; she was a friend to the ministers' wives and families; she organised without fail annual functions, including a Christmas stall, which were particularly her own efforts, and she visited the sick. She was for many years president of the Sewing Meeting.

Although she did not take a very active part in politics, she was for many years president of the Higham Ferrers Women's Liberal Association.

In March 1933, Mrs Patenall had the misfortune to fall and break her thigh. After a long period of convalescence she was able to walk with the aid of a stick, and only a few weeks ago she visited the Rushden Intermediate School, but she never regained her normal health. On August 1 she was in Higham Ferrers making arrangements for her Market Day effort, but the following day a severe illness developed. On August 12 she entered Northampton Hospital; an operation followed on August 13, and her condition was much weaker on Thursday of last week. She was 69 years of age.

Ald. Thomas Patenall and the two sons, Ald. H Rollins Patenall and Mr Donald H Patenall, were present at the end. Mrs Patenall also leaves three sisters—Mrs Curtis, of London, Mrs Berrill, of Louth, and Mrs Palmer, of Higham Ferrers, whose husband, the late Mr C S R Palmer, was a Mayor of Higham.

The Funeral

The Guard of Honour for the funeral at Higham Ferrers on Wednesday afternoon consisted of men and women who during the Great War formed the staff of the Higham V.A.D. Hospital.

Wearing uniform, the 18 nurses and orderlies stood to attention at either side of the cemetery entrance as a last tribute to their old Commandant, and with them was the present Chairman of the Rushden Urban Council, Mr J Allen, J.P., who passed through the hospital as a wounded soldier.

The funeral service took place at "Bron Dinas" Rushden, and was conducted by the Rev W Marshall Johnson, of Higham Ferrers, assisted by the Rev J W Brough, of Rushden, and the Rev H J Blackmore, of Irthlingborough.

[a list of attendees at the funeral service follows]

The blinds of houses and business premises were drawn at every point of the long route through the main street of Higham Ferrers, and the Town Hall flag was at half-mast.

At the cemetery the waiting congregation numbered hundreds—among them members of the Town Council, nursing officers, men and women of the district Methodist churches, and the employees of Messrs T Sanders Ltd.

At the grave, which was a brick vault lined with dahlias, geraniums, white asters and evergreen, the brief service opened with sentences by the Rev Marshall Johnson. The Rev J W Brough offered the prayer, and the superintendent minister, before pronouncing the Benediction, quoted the familiar lines:

"Father, in Thy gracious keeping
Leave we now Thy servant sleeping."

[a long list of attendees in the cemetery follows]

Click here to return to the main index of features
Click here to return to the villages index
Click here to e-mail us