In 1914, the people of Brandsby and the estate presented Hugh with a portrait of himself and a book, inscribed with the names of all those who had contributed to the gift. Below follows the words of Hugh’s acceptance speech, followed by the names which are inscribed in the book of remembrance.
IT HAS OCCURRED TO MR. FAIRFAX-CHOLMELEY, WHO HAS BEEN GREATLY TOUCHED BY THE KINDNESS OF HIS FRIENDS IN PRESENTING HIM WITH HIS PORTRAIT, THAT PERHAPS SOME OF THEM WOULD LIKE TO HAVE A MEMENTO OF AN INCIDENT WHICH TO HIM MUST BE MEMORABLE. HE ACCORDINGLY ENCLOSES A PHOTOGRAPH OF THE PICTURE ITSELF AND ALSO A COPY OF HIS WORDS IN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF SO WELCOME A GIFT.
Brandsby, December, 1914
“I do not know how to find words to thank you adequately for the magnificent present you have made me, or how to express the feelings roused by the speeches of those who have spoken. It is difficult to convey to you how much I appreciate the portrait itself, because what fills my mind at the present moment, far beyond the value of the picture, is the intention of you who make the gift.
The gift is in itself very precious for its own sake and apart from all other considerations, and it is one that I and my family must always take pleasure in when we see it hanging on our walls; but do not think I am unappreciative of its artistic worth if I say so little about it, because my mind to-night is full of pleasure and gratitude for the thought that has prompted the gift.
I accept it as a token of the friendship that binds us together and as a recognition – a too magnificent recognition – of my own poor efforts to make our home here – your home and mine – the better for my having been your landlord.
Many of us have known one another all our lives – some have known me from the time I was a little boy and others I have known from their childhood – and on an occasion like this old memories come back and make one realise what a great happiness in life it is to be able to feel that we have one place in the world we can look to as our home, with good friends and neighbours there, always to be relied on for sympathy and support in a crisis.
My earliest recollections, when a child of four years old, are of Brandsby; people I saw in Brandsby and things I did in Brandsby I remember before anything else, and the love of Brandsby has held possession of me ever since, as indeed I believe it must do in some measure always with those who come to live here. Later in life, when I came to live here permanently, it became the main idea of my life to turn to the best account for my tenants and all who lived here, whatever knowledge and advantages I possessed through my education and position in life. I realised however that, much as some of us might dislike it, the Old Order was changing and that possibly even unwelcome changes might come in the ownership of land and the laws affecting land. But my hope was to help people here to feel that they were a community with a real home of their own and real interests in their township, and that even the humblest had recognised rights as citizens in that home though they might have no property in land. I felt certain that any real progress or prosperity must depend upon such a community and that the existence of this feeling in the community was the root of all enterprise and activity.
After groping our way through many experiments – some foolish, some successful – we have arrived, I hope, at some solid result, and with your good help I have succeeded in establishing some Public Institutions, which the people living here may feel proud to call their own, and not the least among these is the Hall in which we are now met.
When the Hall was about to be built I promised in addition to other contributions the sum of £50 towards the cost of a Working Men’s Club-room, and I had hoped, before the war broke out, that it might be possible for me to complete the building at my own cost. But this disastrous war has so changed our circumstances that I think it will be wise to put our house in order as it exists, and to make the best of what we have got till better times come. I therefore propose to hand over to the Trustees at once my cheque for £50 and to trust to them and the Managers in the future to carry out the original intention when it becomes possible.
I hope that that time may not be so far off as it must appear to most of us at present, and that as years go by this Hall will become more and more the centre of life the Parish.
But with these changes and experiments through which we have had to grope our way, slowly buying our experience, it is only in the nature of things that there should have been differences of opinion amongst us. After all, that is the very essence of Active Life and it would be a bad sign if there were absolute agreement: that could only be where there was stagnation and where nothing was being done that was worth doing. How small those differences are becomes apparent when occasion arises for proof of true friendship of Old Neighbours. Such comradeship is only to be found in the place where we have our home, and to-night you have made me realise more than ever that mine is in Brandsby.
Let me say once more that I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your gift, which I shall always treasure as the far too splendid recognition of my unworthy effort to leave our home at Brandsby – your home and mine – the better for my having lived.”
List of Subscribers to the Presentation Portrait of
Hugh Charles Fairfax-Cholmeley
|W Allen||I M Peck|
|H V Baker||R Pickering|
|J W Bannister||Miss Radcliffe|
|P C Barr||W Radcliffe|
|Miss Bland & Brothers||Mrs James Ramsey|
|J Boocock||Thomas Ridley|
|John Brough||S Robinson|
|Thomas Calvert||James Robinson|
|H Cattley||Oscar Rowntree|
|W Christopher||L Ryder|
|Mr Coldbreath||Rev W M Scott|
|Mrs Crowhall||James Shilbeck|
|R Dent||Thomas Shilbeck|
|J Eales||W Shilbeck|
|George Eyre||H Southgate|
|Arthur Fletcher||Mrs Strickland|
|Mrs Frank||J M Strickland|
|S W Frank||W Suffield|
|S A Payne Gallwey||G Tessiman|
|John Goodwill||Mrs Thompson|
|H Gould||Mrs Watson|
|W Grainger||F Ward|
|W Hammond||John Ward|
|E Hanson||L Ward|
|J Harrison||H White|
|Thomas Harrison||James White|
|W Harrison||John White|
|George Hood||Thomas White|
|F H Hope||W White|
|R Hunton||James Wilson|
|W Johnson||John Wood|
|Henry Lane||W H Wood|
|A Moreland||Mrs Watson|