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The Heartwarming Story of Two Wrenthams

In January of this year, Wrentham community member, Kristine Brown, reached out to us to share a wonderful story. She and her British husband, Barry, had visited Wrentham, England, some 35-40 years ago and had the pleasure of meeting with the town's mayor. It's worth noting that Wrentham, Mass., was named after Wrentham, England, where John Thurston and other settlers hailed from. After Barry's recent passing, Kristine came across postcards that they'd received from Wrentham, England, along with articles from an English newspaper and the Sun Chronicle. We were thrilled to meet with Kristine where she fondly recalled sharing a glass of wine early in the morning with the mayor and visiting a local elementary school to answer questions from the students.


We'd like to express our gratitude to Kristine for sharing the news clippings and postcards of Wrentham, England, with all of us today.


Wrentham, England, 1989

VISITORS FROM WRENTHAM ENGLAND

BY S. L. CHATTEN

*Wrentham's new village sign which Incorporates the American flag.

I WAS delighted to receive a surprise visit last week from Kristine and Barry Brown from Wrentham, Massachusetts, USA.

They had read that their town was founded by settlers from Wrentham, Suffolk, England, and were determined while on a visit to Harrow to look us up.

They could not have come at a better time as I had prepared a package for posting containing news cuttings and photographs of the unveiling of our new village sign which they agreed to deliver by hand.

They were thrilled to see the American flag on our village sign.

Bonsey Gardens, Wrentham.










Wrentham, Massachusetts, 1993

WRENTHAMS SHARE IN THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS

BY JANET SCHOELER FOR THE SUN CHRONICLE

WRENTHAM The pastoral scene on a Christmas card in a folder at the selectmen's office shows a snow-covered field with a Wrentham church and rectory in the background.


But the scene is not a familiar one to locals; it is from Wrentham, in Suffolk, England, where the church is called the Parish Church of Saint Nicholas in Wrentham.


Each Christmas season, the two namesake towns exchange Christmas cards, continuing a link that began when denizens of Wrentham, England, settled here to give the town its name.


The name is derived from Wrenta's Ham, meaning "home stead," or a house with outbuildings that make up a farm.


Town historian Earle Stewart of South Street also keeps the town connection alive. He has already sent his Christmas greetings to David Durrant in England and is awaiting a reply.


Durrant and his wife stayed overnight with the Stewarts a few years ago and continue exchanging news though Durrant has since moved from Wrentham, England, to London.

Stewart said Durrant is compiling a list of names of people who moved from Wrentham, England, to Wrentham, Mass: One of them is John Thruston, who moved here in 1637 with his wife, Mary, and children, Thomas and John. Thurston Street bears his name.


Selectman C. Whiting Rice said the board will send a card to Wrentham, England, with a special commendation to parish council head Sylvia Chatten, who keeps selectmen informed about town news. Barry and Kristine Brown of Bennett Street who visited Wrentham, England about four years ago, also exchange cards each Christmas with Chatten


This year's card from England played photographs, books, wartime items, documents, thatching tools and memorabilia from the Suffolk Regiment, all highlighting the town's history over the past 100 years.


Historian Joseph MacDougald, Beech Street, said that during World War II, Wrentham had an emergency airport, which saved many lives of pilots who had to make emergency landings.


Stewart recalls that during World War II, Wrentham, Mass, residents funded or sent an ambulance to Wrentham, England, because the town was considered safe and not a bombing site, and used to treat wounded soldiers.


Stewart has visited Wrentham, England, and describes it as "Just a simple country town with a parish church, graveyard and homes." Stewart said there was a bank, open two or three hours a week, a post office and a grocery store, and a family named Gooch owned most of the land, which was leased out.


A map shows the town center layed out at a crossroads along a major road. The parish church history in a visitors' guide says the original town center was located by the church, but "when the new turnpike road was constructed in 1786, which is today known as the A12, the village moved.


The church dates back to the early part of the 13th century, and is in an area known as Wrentham West End, Wrentham, Mass, has a section known as West Wrentham.


The map also lists a hairdresser, fish-and-chip shop, antiques store, post office, cafe, butcher shop, grocery shops, garage, fire station, greengrocer's shop, new village hall, new village school and Horse and Groom Public House.

John Reeve of Wrentham, England, also visited town briefly once, and is a craftman who made a village sign for Wrentham, England, in 1988. Primary school children helped with the design.


The sign's crest proudly displays a house with outbuildings, farm land, the river and Village Pond. It also shows the Union Jack and the American flag, which a note sent to selectmen says, "represents the link made by those who sailed from Wrentham and settled in New England.

 

We have just received news from Kristine Brown that she has sent a Wrentham 350 shirt to Wrentham, England. We can't wait to find out what the response will be from across the pond. Thank you, Kristine, for your thoughtfulness!


To be continued...



Wrentham, England

Wrentham, England

 

Compiled by Grey Almeida, Wrentham 350 Anniversary Committee Member

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