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Within weeks of the outbreak of the Great War, towns and villages up and down Britain opened their arms and doors in welcome to thousands of refugees fleeing from Belgium, and Raunds was no exception. Here’s how the local press reported the unfolding story through the course of the war.

KL = Kettering Leader, NET = Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph, RE = Rushden Echo and Higham Ferrers, Irthlingborough and Raunds Free Press.

RE, 18 September 1914 : The Thrapston Board of Guardians have agreed, subject to the approval of the Local Government Board, to place their cottage home at Raunds at the service of Belgian refugees. 

NET, 16 October 1914 : War Relief, Raunds Committee and Belgian Refugees : A meeting of the local War Relief Fund Committee was held at the Temperance Hall on Wednesday evening. Mr J Shelmerdine presided over a good attendance.

The meeting discussed whether anything could be done with regard to offering hospitality to Belgian refugees. Considerable disappointment was expressed that the Scattered Home at Raunds had not been used for this purpose. On the motion of Mr Cooch, seconded by Mr R Lawrence, it was decided to send a letter to the Thrapston Board of Guardians expressing that regret. Mr E A Milligan, JP, mentioned that Mr T H Warth was prepared to offer two cottages for the use of refugees, and to largely support their maintenance. Mr F W Miller proposed, and Mr S Smith seconded, that the committee of the Raunds Distributive Co-operative Society be asked if they would be willing to allow Thorpe House to be used for a similar purpose. It was also decided to appoint a small committee to consider the houses suggested, and report, the Revs J Burrows and C C Aldred, Messrs E A Milligan, JP, F W March, and R Turner being appointed.

NET, 23 October 1914 : Belgian Refugees, Good Work by the Raunds Committee : Notwithstanding the fact that Raunds has done so well for the National Relief Fund, over £700 having been raised, the local committee is heartily taking up the work of arranging to receive a number of Belgian refugees.

At a large and representative meeting of the committee on Monday evening, presided over by Mr J Shelmerdine, the sub-committee appointed at the previous meeting reported that the committee of the Raunds Distributive Co-operative Society had placed Thorpe House, a large and commodious farmhouse, at the disposal of the committee for 12 months free of charge. This, it was believed, would be quite sufficient to accommodate at least 20. Mr T H Warth had also offered a couple of cottages. The sub-committee recommended that one of these, as well as Thorpe House, should be accepted to begin with. It was decided to do this, and, on the motion of Mr Camozzi, seconded by Mrs Milligan, the meeting undertook the responsibility of the work and expense involved. The lady members of the committee, who have for some time been busily engaged in Red Cross work, undertook to arrange for the furnishing that would be required.

Mr EA Milligan, JP, readily responded to the request that he should act as treasurer to the fund, with Mr W F Corby to assist in the collection of subscriptions.

On the motion of Mr W F Corby, seconded by Mr J C Horrell, Messrs E A Milligan, W H Lovell, and Miss Milligan were appointed a committee to go to London to complete the arrangements for the sending of Belgians to the town.

Messrs W H Lovell and G French, of Stanwick, attended the meeting and expressed the opinion that the Stanwick committee would be pleased to join with Raunds in the effort.

A house management committee, consisting of five from Raunds and two from Stanwick, was also chosen. It was decided to open a Belgian Relief Fund, and to arrange for a collection to be taken in the factories and throughout the town. Dr Mackenzie wrote offering free medical attendance and medicine to the Belgians, and a subscription of three guineas to the fund. Mr Milligan expressed his intention of giving ten guineas, stating also that Mrs Buckley would give £5 and Mrs T C Jeeves had promised a ton of potatoes.

The following promises and subscriptions have already been received:- Mr E A Milligan, JP, 10 guineas; Mr John Adams, CC, £10; Mr W H Lovell, 5 guineas; Mrs Buckley, £5; Mr H J Holland, £5; Mr W F Corby, £5; Dr Mackenzie, 3 guineas; Mrs Fawcett, 2 guineas; Mr W Gates, 2 guineas; Baptist Chapel (estimated cost of one refugee for three months), £3-5s-0d, (Pastor Gray 1 guinea, various sums £2-4s-0d); total £51-7s-0d. In addition the Raunds Gas Company have promised a continuing subscription of £1 month.

NET, 29 October 1914 : Belgian Refugees, Thrapston Guardians and their Children’s Home : At the meeting of the Thrapston Board of Guardians on Tuesday (Mr Geo Smith, JP, CC, vice-chairman in the chair), a good deal of discussion took place with reference to the failure of the Board to obtain the use of the "Scattered" (Children’s) Home at Raunds for the accommodation of Belgian refugees. It will be remembered that the Workhouse children were removed to the home on September 30th.

The Clerk reported that on October 15th he received the following telegram from the Local Government Board : "In view of urgent nature for temporary accommodation for Belgian refugees, the Board would consent to proposed use of Children’s Home, Raunds. Consult Inspector." To this a reply was sent that the children had been removed, but that the telegram would be laid before the next meeting. On October 22nd a further telegram as follows was received : "Use of Children’s Home for refugees, Urgency of situation has abated and Board would now deprecate any removal of children."

The following letter, which he had received was next read by the clerk : "Hawarden House, Raunds, 24 th October 1914. Dear Sir, - (Raunds National Relief Fund Committee), I am directed by the above committee to express their deep disappointment and regret that arrangements were not made for the Scattered Home at Raunds to be placed at the disposal of the Belgian refugees. This committee would have been prepared to have undertaken to defray the whole of the cost for the maximum number that could have been accommodated, and a more suitable spot for the purpose it would be difficult to imagine. It gave the members of this committee much pleasure to hear that the Guardians had decided to make the offer, and they cannot but feel that if, by a unanimous vote, your Board had urged the matter upon the Local Government Board, their consent would have been obtained. However, notwithstanding this, we intend to do our best to house a number in this district, and to be responsible for their maintenance, and thus give a practical expression of our desire to do what we can to help relieve the distress of our gallant Belgian Allies. Yours faithfully, W F Corby."

The Chairman thought that the insinuation, if it was an insinuation, that the Board did not do what they could to get the Home for refugees, should be repudiated. It was not true. The Board did everything in their power to obtain the use of the Home, but the Local Government Board replied that they could not give permission. The Board decided unanimously that, subject to sanction, they would place the Home at the disposal of the Refugees’ Committee. So far as the Cottage Homes Committee was concerned, they felt that this was a reflection cast upon them that they had opposed the proposal, which was altogether wrong, untrue : there was not a word of truth in it.

Mr Bonsor said he did not know what the letter insinuated, and what it did not insinuate, but it seemed to him that if the committee had put a little pressure upon the Local Government Board, the Homes would have been at the present moment filled with refugees. Where he blamed the committee was that when they had their reply from the Local Government Board, it seemed to him that it would have been better if they had brought it before the whole Board instead of taking it upon themselves, at a moment’s notice, to draft the children into the Homes.

The Chairman remarked that the resolution for the children to go to the Homes was passed by the whole Board, without one dissentient voice.

Mr Bonsor had no doubt the committee did their duty in a parochial way, but this was a national affair, and he was only too sorry to think that the committee did not rise to the occasion and take Belgian refugees to the Homes.

The Chairman said that no committee had anything to do with it; the whole Board decided it themselves.

The Rev C F Bolland thought that if the committee had not been in such a hurry the Homes would have been used for refugees.

The Chairman said the Board had decided to let the children go to the Homes on September 30th, and when the Local Government Board refused to allow the Homes to be used for refugees, what good would it have been to keep the children from the Homes?

Mr Abbott said there seemed to be an impression that one individual had most to do with the removal of the children. He thought that if the chairman stated that the committee was called together and took the responsibility, that would clear up the matter. He took it the committee was consulted.

The Chairman : You have the report.

The Rev C F Bolland : Only met half an hour before the Board meeting.

The Chairman : It does not matter if it was only two minutes.

In a further statement the Chairman pointed out that as the time was so near the commencement of the quarter it was important to get all the arrangements made, and to send the children to begin a quarter, as the office did not want them to go in the middle of a quarter.


An application was received from the Raunds Refugees Committee that the Board would lend any spare beds and bedding at the Children’s Home ("The Delves") to help in furnishing Thorpe House. It was understood that there were three or four beds and bedding - Granted.

ET, 29 October 1914 : Stanwick - Belgian Refugees - As already reported, there being no accommodation in the village for housing Belgian refugees, and the committee being anxious to do something, it was decided to join Raunds in offering hospitality to the distressed Belgians. The offer being accepted by the Raunds Committee, Stanwick has heartily taken up the work of raising funds and helping in furnishing Thorpe House.

Saturday last was Belgian Day in the village. The Belgian flag was hoisted on the school flag-pole, and several ladies and the Boy Scouts were busy all the afternoon selling Belgian favours, button-holes, and flowers. Mrs Mackenzie, Mrs Col. Fawcett, and Mrs W H Lovell were the organisers, and were assisted by the Misses Gillitt, Burton, Bugby, Barnes, Warner, Robinson, Hardwick (2), and the Scouts. Mr W H Lack, of Wellingborough, had generously sent Mrs Lovell a large box of flowers, which Miss Gillitt made up into button-holes and bunches, and these found a ready sale, bringing in a nice sum.

The Scouts received £2-4s-3d in their boxes, Miss M Robinson £1-3s-1d, and Miss Gillitt 19s-5d. The total result was the gratifying sum of £6-7s-8d. The Stanwick United Brass Band kindly gave their services, parading the village, and playing at various points the National Anthems of the Allies.

Several offers of articles of furniture have been made for making ready the home of the refugees. Up to date the following amounts have been given or promised:- Proceeds of Belgian Day, £6-7s-8d; Mr W H Lovell, £5-5s-0d; Mr J H Holland, £5; Capt Swanson, £5; Mrs Fawcett, £2-2s-0d; Mrs Mackenzie (1st donation), £2; total, £25-14s-8d.

NET, 30 October 1914 : Belgian Refugees - The people of Raunds have been busy this week making preparations for receiving a number of Belgians, whom it is expected will arrive this (Friday) afternoon. Thorpe House, a commodious farmhouse placed at the disposal of the committee by the Raunds Distributive Co-Operative Society, has been furnished throughout, and all preparations made for the reception of the guests. Mr E A Milligan, JP, and Miss Milligan (Raunds), and Mr W H Lovell (Stanwick) have been making arrangements in London for their transfer to Raunds, and both the parishes of Raunds and Stanwick are preparing to give them a hearty welcome. At the present time there are some five of the refugess in private homes in the town, and before the week is out it is expected that quite thirty will have found a home in the district.

RE, 30 October 1914 : In the Palace Theatre on Sunday evening, a concert arranged by Messrs Mitchell and Myers, the proprietors, was held in aid of the Belgian Refugees Fund. There was a crowded attendance.

KL, 6 November 1914 : Refugees for Raunds - The good-hearted inhabitants of Raunds have made arrangements for receiving a number of Belgian refugees in their midst, and about 30 in all will be accommodated in the district. Thorpe House, a commodious farmhouse placed at the disposal of the committee of the Raunds Co-Operative Society has been furnished throughout, and adequate preparations made for the comfort of the guests. The party of refugees shown in the photograph arrived in charge of the Rev J Burrows and Mr John Adams, CC.

RE, 13 November 1914 : On Saturday a further party of 15 Belgian refugees arrived at Raunds direct from Folkstone. This makes a total of 29.

RE, 13 November 1914 : The visit to Stanwick of the Belgian refugees from Raunds was a red-letter day. An address of thanks and gratitude was read by M.Morel, after which he sang the Belgian national anthem and "The Fatherland" in Flemish.

Mdlle.Margot Pfeiffenschneider sang the "Marseilleise", Mrs Richards played the Belgian and Englsih national anthems. Miss Terry gave a fine recitation of "The ballad of Splendid Silence". Miss Clipson sang 2 songs and Miss Sherratt gave 2 recitations.

The sum of £3-10s-0d was handed to the treasurer of the Raunds and Stanwick Belgian Fund. About 20 of the Belgians came to tea and stayed until 8pm. The room was decorated with the flags of the Allies.

NET, 3 December 1914 : Belgian’s Thanks - Social to Meet Refugees at Raunds - A social evening was held on Saturday last in the Church of England Schools, Raunds, so that the parishioners might have the opportunity of meeting the Belgian refugees who are at present residing in the town. The arrangements were made by the Relief Committee, and admirably carried out by Mesdames E A Milligan, A Camozzi, and T Yorke.

The social commenced at seven o’clock and continued until 10.30, the dancing being interspersed by songs given by Mrs W H Spicer and Monsieurs Morel, Herrent, and Empain, Miss Marie Yorke accompanying at the piano. The music for dancing was supplied by members of the Temperance Band, Mr H Edwards acting as the M.C. The proceeds, which amounted to £8, were in aid of providing clothing for the refugees. The following letters were read by the Belgians during the evening:-

"Ladies and gentlemen, On behalf of the Belgians I wish to thank you all for your kindness. It is with real emotion that I recall our arrival at Raunds. The welcome that was given to us by the English impressed and consoled us very much, and it is an event that we shall never forget. The Refugees Committee received us with extreme kindness. We have indeed found another home, and our exile amoung you has become pleasant. Every day the Belgians benefit by the kindness of the committee. Its chief desire was to instal us comfortably amongst you, and it has spared neither time nor trouble to do this. I cannot find words sufficiently strong to express our gratitude, but I speak with all sincerity. I must thank particularly Mr and Mrs Camozzi for their generous hospitality. They are true parents to us, and we have found a second home with them.

When we arrived at Raunds we found ourselves in the midst of strangers, but the people have made friends with us and show a friendly spirit towards their unfortunate Belgian brothers. We shall never forget our sojourn at Raunds and we shall all feel very sorry to leave. We are all proud to be Belgians, but now we shall be pleased to be as English too. Once again on behalf of the Belgians I thank both the committee and the people of Raunds who have proved that they wish to make us both comfortable and happy. Long live England, and above all, long live Raunds! - Emile Empain."

"Ladies and gentlemen, After defending its neutrality, the people of Belgium were obliged to flee. Many came to England with broken hearts and without hope. To their great astonishment they found that committees had been formed to help the refugees to find homes. My compatriots have come here tonight to thank the committee and the people for their kindness. We have great regard for the inhabitants of this town on account of the hearty way in which they received us. Once again we thank you all very much for your kindness."

RE, 4 December 1914 : Two of the Belgian refugees from Raunds took part in the afternoon service at the Wellingborough Wesleyan Church on Sunday.

RE, 4 December 1914 : A social was held on Saturday at the Church Schools to meet the Belgian refugees.

Dancing was interspersed by songs by Mrs W H Spicer and Monsieurs Morel, Herrent and Empain. The music for dancing was supplied by the Temperance Band, Mr H Edwards acting as the M.C.

The proceeds, £8, were for clothing for the refugees.

KL, 11 December 1914 : Hospitable Raunds – How Thirty Belgian Refugees are Being Cared For – At the present time there are some 30 Belgian refugees at Raunds, who are guests of the Raunds and Stanwick Committee.  

One half of this number have found a comfortable home in Thorpe House, an old and commodious building which has been very nicely furnished for their use. The party consists of nine adults and six children. The latter are attending the Council Infants’ School, and it is remarkable how quickly the little ones are picking up the English songs and nursery rhymes, and seem quite happy in their new surroundings. The group comprises Maria and Alice Vliegen, Martha Stroobant, M and Mme Morel and four children, M and Mme Pfeiffenschneider and two children, and M and Mme Stroobant. 

RE, 18 December 1914 : Belgian Refugees at Higham Ferrers – Visitors from Raunds – The Seige of Antwerp – An interesting meeting was held in the Higham Ferrers Wesleyan Church on Sunday afternoon, when an address was given by M Nichel Pfeiffenschneider, a Belgian refugee from Raunds, who lucidly described the appalling atrocities committed by the Germans in Belgium. The church was crowded. 

M Pfeiffenschneider, who hails from Antwerp, said that he went to the station in company with numerous other refugees, to try and get away from Antwerp before the bombardment commenced, but owing to the rush he was unable to get a seat in the train, and was compelled to stay the night in one of the hotels near. 

During the night that part of Antwerp where he had resided was completely razed to the ground by German shells, his own residence being utterly destroyed. The occupants of the hotel where he was staying spent the whole of the night in the cellars, that being the only place of comparative safety. 

Finally he got to Ostend, where he was able to get a boat to Folkestone, and after a short time there he was offered hospitality at Thorpe House, Raunds, receiving the same with gratitude. 

Another refugee, M Lazare Morel, an excellent baritone, rendered three solos in good style, viz, The Marseillaise, The Brabancomme, and “Myn Vaterland”. 

The chair was taken by the Deputy Mayor (Ald T Patenhall), who, in opening, said that the meeting was unique in the history of the borough. They had been hoping for some weeks past to have the honour of entertaining some of the Belgian refugees, and it seemed a strange coincidence that the borough should first receive their kindness in both speech and song. That action was typical of the Belgian nation. When the foe invaded their country they were first in the field, and England owed to them a very great debt of gratitude. 

Referring to the visit of the King to the seat of war, Ald Patenhall said he regarded the meeting of the two Kings and the bestowing of the Order of the Garter upon King Albert as one of the greatest events, and he hoped that the Eagle would soon descend with clipped wings, and that all nations would unite in the grand Christmas card “Peace on earth, and goodwill towards men.” 

The collection, on behalf of the fund for Christmas boxes for the 48 men connected with the church who are now serving their King and country, amounted to £4-3s-10d.

RE, 25 December 1914 : Raunds – Brotherhood – An address on “The Bombardment of Antwerp” was given to a large crowd on Sunday by one of the Belgian refugees. Mr W F Corby presided. 

M Pfeiffenschneider gave an account of his experience of the bombardment of Antwerp and said that when England took up their case Belgians said “That is our trump card, for with England with us, Germany can never win.” 

Musical items were given by the Wesleyan Choir, M Morel, Mr O D Hall, Mr J W Hall and Mr A Hazeldine.

END OF 1914 – return to top of page

RE, 8 January 1915 : The Annual Tea given by the Adult School to the old people over 65 years of age was held on Saturday, when about 150 attended, including the Belgians in the town. 

The following contributed to the programme ..................... Mdlle Pfeiffenschneider, Mlle E Pfeiffenschneider, Mdlle Marie de Berghes and Mdlles E & A Vligen. 

RE, 2 April 1915 : Raunds “Belgian Week” resulted in a net profit of £45-2s-9d. 

RE, 16 April 1915 : Raunds – Accident – While swinging with some of the Belgian children at Thorpe House on Friday, Elsie Dicks, 6, fell off and broke both the bones of her right forearm. Efficient first aid was rendered by her father and Dr Mackenzie set the limb. 

KL, 25 June 1915 : Hospital Day at Raunds – Speech and Spectacle in War Year Effort – Britain Protects the Weak. 

Today’s Kettering Leader report on the town’s Annual Hospital Day Demonstration included a photograph of the Belgian refugees’ fancy dress entry which depicted Belgium’s gratitude to the British Empire. 

NET, 23 July 1915 : Raunds – Belgian Day – On Wednesday, being the Belgian National Day, some refugees had the idea of arranging a collection on behalf of the Wounded Soldiers Fund. 

M Lazare Morel, assisted by Mme Morel, Mme Stroobant and children raised £8-13s-1d. 

NET, 1 October 1915 : Raunds – Belgian Committee – a meeting of this committee was held in the Temperance Hall on Monday evening when there was a good attendance, over which Mr A Camozzi presided. 

From a report submitted by the secretary (Mr W F Corby) it appeared that the sum of £246-19s-10d had been received and that the expenditure had amounted to £247-15s-1d, leaving an adverse balance of 15s-3d, which was more than met by the sum of £10 due from the Stanwick funds, and which would be sufficient to clear all accounts up to the end of September. 

The Executive Committee had gone carefully into the question of their future maintenance and recommended that the catering at Thorpe House be dispensed with, and that in the case of each family the needs be met by a monetary allowance, to be determined by the necessities of the case. This, the committee advised could be carried out for about £3-2s-6d per week and recommended that this should be undertaken for six months up to the 31st March next. 

After some little discussion, on the motion of Mr S Smith, seconded by Mr W Hall, the suggestions of the executive were unanimously adopted. The ways and means of raising the £12-10s-0d per month required were then discussed. Mr W H Lovell (Stanwick) said that as long as Raunds were willing to keep the Belgians, the Stanwick friends would find one-fifth of the cost. (Cheers.) 

Mr W F Corby stated that towards the £10 per month required from Raunds he had secured six promises of £1 per month each, and that he was expecting two others on the same lines. In addition, Mrs A Lawrence, of Raunds Hall, had promised to arrange another concert on the lines of the previous one which realised over £13. Other items promised revealed the fact that the money required would be raised without difficulty. 

On the motion of Mr W F Corby, seconded by Mr J C Horrell, and supported by Mr W H Lovell, a hearty vote of thanks was accorded to those close friends who had been responsible for the catering arrangements during the past year. Mr G French, who had acted for Stanwick, acknowledged the vote on behalf of himself and the Raunds ladies. 

The secretary bore tribute to the valuable help that had been given to the executive by Messrs W H Lovell and G French, representing Stanwick on the committee. 

RE, 1 October 1915 : The “Rushden Echo” reported, in much briefer terms, the same meeting as follows: 

The Belgian Committee met on Monday. Mr Camozzi presided. 

The Secretary (Mr W F Corby) reported that £246-19s-10d had been received, and the expenditure was £247-15s-1d, leaving an adverse balance of 15s-3d, which was more than met by the sum of £10 due from the Stanwick funds. 

The Executive Committee recommended that the catering at Thorpe House be dispensed with, and each family granted a sum to be determined by the necessities of the case. This was adopted. 

Stanwick promised one-fifth of the money. 

NET, 22 November 1915 : Raunds – Refugees Depart – Amongst the refugees who have been under the care of the Raunds & Stanwick Belgian Relief Committee since October of last year, have been M and Madame Deberghes and their little daughter Marie. Previous to the outbreak of the war M Deberghes was porter superintendent of the luggage department at Antwerp. A position has now been found for him on the railway in north west France, and the family leave for their new home tomorrow (Tuesday).  

The Deberghes on Monday called at the house of the secretary of the committee (Mr W F Corby) and expressed grateful thanks to the people of Raunds and Stanwick for the great kindness shown to them. There are still sixteen refugees under the care of the committee. 

NET, 23 November 1915 : Raunds – A concert in aid of the Raunds Belgian Relief Fund, arranged by Mrs A Lawrence of “The Hall”, was held in the Wesleyan Schoolroom on Saturday. About £16 was raised. 

RE, 26 November 1915 : A concert for the Belgian Relief Fund on Saturday raised £16. Mrs A Lawrence organised the concert.

END OF 1915 – return to top of page

RE, 7 January 1916 : Raunds – The annual tea given by the Men’s and Women’s Adult School to the old people over 65 years of age was held on Saturday, 1 January, when about 140 were present, including the Belgian refugees.  

After tea a splendid programme was gone through, the artistes were Messrs O D Hall, A Tebbutt, S Head, Master Willis Rands, Misses W Pentelow, M Sanders, Monsieur L Morel, and some Belgian children.  

No records have been found between January 1916 and April 1917 relating to the refugees. Certainly by now they appear to have been fully integrated into the local community to whom the novelty of having foreign folk among them had probably long since worn off and were no longer considered news-worthy. However, the work of raising funds to maintain them was carried on without falter by the committee, backed by the majority of the townsfolk.

Sadly, elsewhere in the country a degree of animosity had grown in some communities towards their less fortunate continental “lodgers”, with accusations of “taking jobs and food that should be ours” and unwelcome fraternisation with local girls (and boys)! Happily, there’s no evidence of this occurring in Raunds and Stanwick.

RE, 6 April 1917 : Raunds - Belgian House - On the application of the Raunds Urban Council, the Thrapston Bench on Tuesday excused (for the 4th time) the rates on the house at Raunds occupied by Belgian refugees.    

KL, 27 April 1917
: Belgian Wedding – Raunds Refugee at the Altar – On Saturday last a very pretty wedding was solemnised at the Roman Catholic Church at Rushden, the contracting parties being Monsieur Jean Joseph H Desherhaut, Adjutant to the Belgian Army, of Chotelineun, Belgium, and Mademoiselle Mitge Vliegen, a Belgian refugee, of Antwerp.  

The bridegroom has been in the Belgian Army from the first day of the outbreak of war, and was wounded in the defence of Antwerp, near Daffel, and was brought to the hospital at Margate. In the early part of 1915 he visited Raunds to see his fiancée on several occasions and in August of the same year he went out to Africa and took part in the campaign in German East Africa. Having been invalided home for sickness, he returned to Raunds, and meantime accepted another post in the Belgian Government in Central Africa, whither he is shortly returning.  

The bride came to Raunds as a guest of the town after the bombardment of Antwerp in the autumn of 1914, and has resided there ever since.  

The wedding ceremony was performed by the Rev Father O’Gorman. The two little nieces of the bride, Marguerite and Elsa Pfieffenschneider, were the bridesmaids. Others present included Mr and Mrs Pfieffenschneider (sister and brother-in-law), Mdlle Alice Vliegen and Mrs Peters (sisters), who have been in Raunds since the autumn of 1915.  

Later in the day the wedding party, with a few invited friends (including the whole of the Belgians at present in Raunds), sat down to an excellent tea in the Wesleyan Schoolroom, the catering for which was admirably carried out by the Raunds Distributive Co-operative Society.  

Before removing the tables short congratulatory speeches were made by Messrs W H Lovell, G French (Stanwick), W F Corby, G E Smith, W W Hall, and Miss Pulpher. Mr Lazare Morel, who came as a Belgian refugee to Raunds with the bride and the other members of her family, and is now in business in London, also addressed the gathering. The bride and her brother-in-law suitably acknowledged the greetings, the bridegroom being unable to speak in English.  

A social hour was subsequently spent before the party separated.    

KL, 25 May 1917 : A Belgian Wedding – Exiles Figure in a Happy Scene at Raunds – Four weeks after the above report of the wedding, the Kettering Leader featured a photograph of the wedding party taken by Charlie Vorley.        

RE & KL, 15 June 1917 :
Raunds - For failing to notify the authorities of a change of address as required by Regulation 20c(b) of the Alien Restrictions (Consolidation) Order 1916, Marie Fallart, a Belgian refugee of Raunds, was fined 2 shillings on Tuesday at the Thrapston Police Court.  

She spoke little English but was communicated to in French by Lord Lilford (in the chair) and said that she went for a holiday and didn’t know that she had to tell anyone.    

7 September 1917 : Raunds – A joint meeting of the National Relief Fund Committee, the Belgian Relief Fund Committee, and the Town War Charity Committee was held in the Temperance Hall on Monday, 3 September, Mr A Camozzi, JP, presiding.  

Mr W F Corby reported that the Belgian Relief Fund receipts to have been £390-7s-9d and expenditure also £390-7s-9d. He went on to say that the whole of the Belgians under the care of the committee had now removed, and proposed thanks to the Co-Operative Society for the free loan of Thorpe House for the whole of the period. Mr J C Horrell seconded.  

Letters were read from Monsieurs L Morel and M Pfeiffenschneider gratefully acknowledging the hospitality they had received from the committee.  

The secretary said he thought the Raunds Committee should recognise the loyalty of the Stanwick Committee in that work, especially the great interest that had been shown by Mr W H Lovell. Stanwick promised to raise one fifth of the amount required, and that pledge had been faithfully redeemed. He thought the work done by Mrs G Smith and Miss Pulpher deserved mention.  

The meeting then expressed thanks to Mr Corby for the way in which he had carried out his duties of honorary secretary.    

So ended the Rance adventure for the Belgians and likewise for the town residents, one wonders if any of them ever came back to visit or if any local folk kept in contact?  

If you should have anything to add to this interesting episode in the town’s history, please contact Steve.