Travel through time with Hubbards Hills
In 1875 a young Swiss teacher, Auguste Alphonse Pahud arrived in Louth to teach French and German to the boys at King Edward VI School. He met and fell in love with Annie Grant, the daughter of a wealthy farmer from Withern, and the couple married 12 years later.
They made their home at The Limes in Westgate, Auguste retired from the teaching profession and like many rich people of this time spent much time travelling extensively.
The inseparable couple were on their way to the continent to improve Annie's health when she died suddenly in London in 1899. Auguste was inconsolable, becoming something of a hermit.
It all came too much...
It all came too much for him and after drawing up his will in July 1902 he died. In his £25,000 will Auguste left instructions that a board of trustees should be set up to distribute his fortune to celebrate the memory of his dear wife. These seven wise men, who are remembered on the plaque on the memorial in the centre of Hubbards Hills, decided to invest £1000 to fund a new window in Mrs Pahud's memory at the parish church.
The Limes was given to launch the Girls' Grammar School, a fund was set up to assist the poor in the parish of Withern, where Annie's parents had farmed, and it was agreed to buy Hubbards Hills on the outskirts of the town as a lasting memorial to Auguste's beloved wife. The land was bought from the Lord of the Manor at Hallington Mr J. Ward for the princely sum of just over £2000 - the sale included the lake and the watermill on Crowtree Lane but not what is now Mr and Mrs Marsh's farm. Improvements were made with extensive tree planting and David Robinson's excellent book on the History of Hubbards Hills charts these changes in great detail.
Handed to the people of Louth
It was a time of great celebration for the people of Louth. This glorious extract from the Louth and North Lincs Advertiser of August 3 1907, kindly lent by Stuart McLeod gives a flavour of the "big day".
"Louth woke up on Thursday morning to find the sun shining gloriously upon streets gay with flags and bunting. And though the clouds soon began to veil the face of the heavens that early sunshine was prophetic of a day of unsullied joy in the open air, when the town received with grateful heart and smiling face the munificent gift which the generosity of the late Mr A A Pahud JP had made possible.
"All the world and his wife, so far as Louth is a cosmos of itself turned out to visit Huibbards Hills to hold high festival in the actual possession of the gift so recently bestowed - and too for the day will live in the memories of the children when the grey hairs are upon their heads and when the sun of their life is sinking in the western sky.
Interesting ceremony it was
"From nine o'clock until noon the bells of the parish church clashed out at intervals in merry peals and the hearts of the people kept tune with them, for no amount of head shaking would induce the average citizen to believe that the leaden sky portended rain.
"And it didn't for the Clerk of the Weather would have blushed, even in a season like this, to have spoiled the rejoicings by an inconvenient downpour.
"After noon practically all business was suspended and at 12.30 a large crowd had gathered in the Town Hall to witness the public presentations of the title deeds to the Estate given to the people of Louth and a most interesting ceremony it was.
"Cannon White said: "We have assigned to the Mayor and Corporation of Louth this most interesting and beautiful tract of land and country known as Hubbards Hills. It was a very seasonable time for the trustees to come in. Had the idea been carried out which was proposed, the cutting down of the noble trees on the banks side for sale, I think the dale and the valley would have been certainly ruined for our time and for our children's children. There would have been no hope of Hubbards Valley being to us what it had been in the past, such a delightful pleasure garden, and such an agreeable park, I may call it for Louth.
"We have desired Mr Mayor simply to do our duty towards this picturesque spot in order to make it as delightful and happy a pleasure ground for the good people of Louth as it was possible for us to make it.
"The Mayor said I consider it one of the most interesting, the most important and may I in all humility say the proudest moment of my municipal career to have put into my hands the deeds of this most beautiful property with all its charms and delights to the public of Louth that it has been placed in my hands and in the hands of the town council for the time being as the trustees on your behalf to maintain and uphold it in the same manner as it has been in the years past and to make it a delightful pleasure ground for the people of Louth.
"The Mayor and Mayoress of Grimsby were present at the handover "who represented the metropolis of the fishing trade that was making rapid strides and would eventually do for the east coast of England what Liverpool had done for the west" and we hoped to make such a charming place of Louth that some of the merchant prices of Grimsby would come and settle here."
The sitting Member of Parliament Mr Perks was also in generous mood, saying: "I am pleased to place in the hands of the corporation £100 for the erecting of four shelters the citizens of Louth, young and old alike, might take refuge in times of stress. He trusted that the gift of this estate, so generously given, so judiciously dispersed would be an incitement to some of the merchant princes, not only of Grimsby, to think when they made their testamentary dispositions and reflected that they could not take their wordly goods with them to another world, as kindly and as judiciously as the townspeople and residents in this district."
The festivities at the Town Hall were for the favoured few but the outdoor festivities provided a great deal of fun for the townsfolk and their families.
"Meanwhile the clans were gathering. Babbington's military band had been waking the echoes in the Market Place for an hour before the proceedings at the luncheon were over the sound of the bugle band of the Church Lads' Brigade was heard in the streets.
"Mr M Rice marshalled an array of about 2500 school children and subsequently conducted them in the singing of the Old Hundredth. The Babbington Band led off the procession in splendid style and thereafter all roads led to Hubbards Valley, where also the band played selections at intervals.
"Here was seen such a sight as man never before set eyes on in Louth or the neighbourhood. The mass of human beings which gathered on the slope in front of Fisher's Hill was a most inspiring spectacle and the youngsters seemed to thoroughly enjoy the entertainment consisting of living marionettes, Chinese conjuring, ventriloquism, Negro sketch, Punch and Judy etc which had been provided for their amusement. Sports in the water and a greasy pole - a R Marsh won this competition - as well as a Tea organised by the Mayor in Mr Lamming's field. 5000 present during the day and this rose to 8 to 9000 in the evening when the fun was rounded off with a firework display concluding with "May Louth enjoy Hubbards Hills Goodnight" in letters of fire!
A Joint Management Committee was formed...
A Joint Management Committee was formed, comprising officers and councillors representing both organisations, and took over running Hubbards Hills with East Lindsey carrying out the maintenance from cleaning the loos to cutting the grass, collecting the rubbish to overseeing tree and river works.
Despite high hopes that the council would secure substantial funding to renovate the site this was not to be and an adventurous scheme put forward by landscape architects Shiels Flynn never saw the light of day. With competing demands for funding at the district council maintenance was kept to a minimum and by 2009 it was clear a sustainable plan for the future of the beauty spot was long overdue.
The Hills returned to the town!
LATE in 2008 Louth Town Council received the unexpected news that the Hills was to be returned to the town! It was agreed to form a charity, which would be able to apply for grants not open to local government, and this came into being on April 1 2009.
The rules dictated that the community had to outnumber councillors on the governing body and five local people with specialised interests – Philip Day, Allan Dunning, Michael Beaumont, Michael Moncaster and Mrs Linda Cahalin – joined councillors Andrew Leonard, Jill Makinson-Sanders, Dave Wing and Mary Finch.
A Maintenance Plan was drawn up with help from tree expert Mark Hudson and Ruth Snelson, the chalk stream officer working with the Lincolnshire Wolds AONB team. The Hills are now part funded by Louth Town Council and grants from outside bodies – and running the loos has now been added to the tasks taken on by the team!
What does the future hold...
As part of the consultation and development process necessary to regenerate Hubbards Hills we are proposing to hold a Conference in the Autumn at Louth Town Hall. The programme will include a welcome from our Chairperson setting out the aims for the day, a keynote speaker, workshops led by professionals on the various areas of research and funding topics e.g geological, flora and fauna and tree survey needs, and education proposals.
We will be inviting representatives of ELDC, and other organisations, as well as those with important knowledge of the area including local schools. There will follow a plenary in the form of an open meeting to which the people of Louth are invited to a ‘question and answer / suggestion’ session. It is our intention to involve the community at all stages of the work to ensure that the debate is open and transparent and includes the peoples’ viewpoint.
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