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Pittville Remembers Project

In December 2017, Pittville School was approached by the Cheltenham Civic Society who wanted our pupils to help with a project linked to the centenary of the First World War.

Twenty – two trench crosses in Cheltenham Cemetery, belong to men from Cheltenham. The crosses had been sent to England after the soldiers’ bodies were repatriated. For an unknown reason, these crosses had not been claimed by relatives and so remained at the cemetery untouched for a number of years. Recently the Civic Society applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund to help pay for the restoration of these crosses before they deteriorated beyond repair , and asked our students to conduct some research into the history of the local men represented by the crosses. GCSE History Students were asked to apply for a position in the research team, and 14 were successful.

The researchers from Pittville School were: Jake Leworthy (11As1), Austin Rose (11Ab2), Nathan Theyer (11Ab2), Penny Cleevely (11Ab2), Ellie-Mae Sawle (11Li1), Kitty Regan (11Ab1), Sam Burge (11Ab2), Chase Allen (11As1), Lilah Culliford (11Ab1), Bonnie Hosey (11Li2), Jabir Rashid (10Ab2), Jessica Jefferies (10Ab1), Oscar Reeves (10Li1) and Jonas Whitfield (10Ab2).

Funding was approved back in June and since then the students, led by Miss Taylor and assisted by Mr Gilpin, have been working extremely hard on researching the men, their backgrounds, their regiments and the battles in which they unfortunately lost their lives. This research has involved looking at a wide range of different historical sources, such as newspapers, trench diaries and National Census, as well as conversing with local history and conversation experts. In the case of one of the soldiers, we have even been lucky enough to trace a living relative who has provided us with a vast array of information!

As part of Remembrance Week at Pittville, two local experts came in to talk to the students involved. On 5th of November, we were extremely lucky to have a talk from Stephen Umpleby who completed the restoration of the crosses and who brought in a selection for us to see. He talked about the crosses involved in conservation, and about the work he had completed to hopefully maintain the deteriorating beyond repair, so it was fortuitous timing indeed for the project. Wednesday 7th November brought an excellent talk from local historian Neela Mann, who has been a key consultant on the project having done extensive research herself on Cheltenham at the time of the First Word War. She shared with the pupils her findings, including her detailed research into one of the men, Lieutenant Winterbottom, who we learned was also a renowned war poet.

The project will culminate in February 2019, when a public exhibition of students’ work will be held here at Pittville School, with a second exhibition held later at Parmoor House, the home of the Cheltenham Civic Society. This will be a touring exhibition for display anywhere in the county upon request, and will accompanied by a printed booklet also containing the students’ research. This project has not only allowed students to improve their own historical skills and not knowledge, but has also given them an opportunity to add to the historical knowledge of the local area, whilst also preventing the men who gave their lives from being forgotten. I am extremely impressed with their dedication and hard work thus far, and I am confident that the exhibition will be extremely interesting and professionally presented.

Pictures and up-to-date information can be found on the School Website in the ‘Pittville Remembers’ section, and by following our Twitter account @PittRemembers.

Miss Taylor
KS3 History Co-ordinator