A Little History of Cherington and Stourton, Warwickshire
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Margaret Dickins (1858 - 1947)

Margaret Dickins was born on Christmas Eve 1858 at Tardebigge, Worcestershire, and baptised there on Sunday January 30, 1859, no doubt by her own father, Charles Allan Dickins, incumbent of the parish of Saint Bartholomew, Tardebigge, from 1855 until his death in 1917.

Margaret hints at the origins of her parents, who knew her as “Peg”, in her dedication to this Little History. Canon C. A. Dickins was born at Cherington House, Warwickshire, one of thirteen children of magistrate William Dickins and his wife Lucy (née Park). The Dickins family had become established in the village through marriage in the mid-seventeenth century, as the writer herself relates in Chapter VII of this book. Her mother, née Frances Barbara Whitmore-Jones, was the third daughter of John Henry Whitmore-Jones, and a descendant of Walter Jones, the affluent barrister and Cotswold wool merchant for whom the beautiful Jacobean mansion of Chastleton House in Oxfordshire was built in the early seventeenth century, and which remained in possession of the same family for nearly 400 years until it became a National Trust property in the last decade of the twentieth.

 In her late thirties, the author settled in the Oxfordshire village of Hook Norton, some seven miles (12 km) from Chastleton. Margaret became the honorary organist of the Parish Church of St Peter in 1896, and stayed for the rest of her life, residing with her brother Herbert and younger sister Barbara at Bridge House, formerly one of two poor asylums in the village. The portrait on the left is from 1912.

Thus it was that the first of her books to be published - in 1928, when she had already reached her seventieth year - was A History of Hook Norton 912-1928. Indeed, like the present work, inspired by centuries of family association with Cherington and Stourton, all her other books related the history of places with which she had close personal links. A history of her birthplace, A Thousand Years in Tardebigge, was published in 1931; this was followed by the appearance in 1934 of A Little History of Cherington and Stourton. Margaret also wrote a booklet describing the seat of her mother's family, Chastleton House.

As well as being a writer, Miss Dickins was an accomplished musician - an Associate of the Royal College of Organists - and took charge of the choir in Hook Norton, as her cousin and sister-in-law Mrs Harriet (“Nora”) Dickins, a former pupil of Sir Edward Elgar, did in Cherington. Old Cheringtonians remember that the latter would call on “Miss Margaret´s” sister, “Miss Barbara”, to assist in adding a final polish before performances. The tablet (right) inside St Peter’s church was erected “in Grateful Memory” of Margaret and Barbara, “who [..] devoted their lives to the welfare of its inhabitants and to the service of the church.”

Margaret Dickins died on Friday, July 11, 1947, at the age of 88, and is buried at Hook Norton alongside her sister Barbara and elder brother Herbert. As the tablet states, there is a further commemoration of the Dickins sisters within the church there, their names being inscribed on two of the bells.

An obituary was published on page 2 of the Banbury Guardian of Thursday July 17, 1947:

District Intelligence: HOOK NORTON

Death of Miss Dickins

With regret we report the death of Miss Margaret Dickins, of Bridge House, which occurred at an Oxford Nursing Home, at the age of 88.

Miss Dickins and her sister, the late Miss Barbara Dickins, worked unceasingly for many years for the people of Hook Norton, being the voluntary organists of St Peter's Parish Church, training the choir and Choral Society, making good music appreciated. Miss Dickins was the first president of the Women's Institute, holding the position for about 20 years. She was beloved by all who came into contact with her, and when she wrote her "History of Hook Norton" she characteristically put it within the reach of all.

Miss Dickins was the oldest daughter of the late Canon Dickins, of Tardebigge, Worcs. Two sisters, Mrs Ball, of Oxford, and Mrs Whitmore-Jones, of Chastleton House, survive her.


About the author