By Marion Turner
In the Directory for the Vale of the White Horse for 1912 under the entry for Ashbury it states that the Mission Hall was erected by Miss Hedges in memory of her uncle, John Spindloe. Who was John Spindloe? Much remains to be discovered but these are the facts as currently known:
He was born at Northleach in Gloucestershire in 1827. He doesn’t appear in the 1841 census but by the next he is married to an Ashbury girl, Mary, and both are listed as visitors of the game keeper Alfred Eustace and his family. John’s occupation is given as Miller. They seem to have been childless or at least to have no children who survived infancy.
His name is inscribed on the wrought iron gate at Claremont, with the date 1868, together with the name of Bourton’s blacksmith, E. (Elijah) Dixon, who made all the railings save the big double gates, but in 1871 he and Mary were living at Upper Mill with their niece Elizabeth Smith from Goosey.
By 1881 John and Mary Spindloe were certainly living at Claremont, with Frederick W.Disbury, aged 17, a ploughboy born in Faringdon. John described himself as a farmer of 161/2 acres, employing 3 men and a boy. He is also a Maltster and a coal merchant.
Ten years later and they appear to be living on their own. Mary died in 1895 and by 1901 Blanche Hedges, third of the Hedges sisters, was acting as housekeeper, with the assistance of Mary Ann Burt. John is last mentioned in Kelly’s Directory in 1903. He died on 19th November 1907.
It was presumably not long after this that Robert Whitfield Hedges, father of the six Hedges sisters (he also had a son, William) came to live at Claremont. He was certainly there by 1915. Previously he farmed at Manor Farm and elsewhere.
Alfred Edwards, a draper from North Hagbourne, who was to marry the fifth daughter, Selina Madeleine Hedges was listed as the principal resident from 1931-56. Robert Whitfield Hedges and his wife Susan (nee Collins) lived long lives. Robert died in 1930 at the age of 94, his wife, three years his senior, in 1929.