The HISTORY of our Byfield and District RBL Branch
Byfield is a village eight miles south of Daventry in the middle of England, actually in the southwest corner of the county of Northamptonshire; we are ten miles north of Banbury over the border in Oxfordshire, where we have our nearest motorway access, the M40.
The Byfield Branch of the Royal British Legion wast re-established on 31st October 1947 and met in a building on the site of the present 5-Ways' filling station. Although the Legion had been represented in Byfield before that, sadly, records of that have been lost.
When the Village Hall was built in 1960 the RBL contributed £800 towards the building cost and moved their meetings to the new hall, which is still used for our RBL bi-monthly Monday evening meetings. On alternate months, on a Tuesday evening our monthly meetings are held elsewhere around our District: see our Meeting's Minutes Page herein for venues.
Byfield & District originally included Aston-le-Walls, The Boddingtons (upper & lower) & Chipping Warden.
In 2000, when sadly the Staverton Branch, just south of Daventry, closed, Byfield’s District was extended by taking over responsibilities for membership in the villages of Hellidon, Catesby and Charwelton all lying to the south of Staverton; Staverton itself now comes under Daventry Branch.
This happened again in 2002 when the Woodford Halse Branch closed leaving the villages of Preston Capes, Little Preston and Woodford Halse under Byfield’s wing.
Now once more we have to accommodate a wider area, as the Eydon Branch is closing. Members of the RBL from Eydon, Culworth and Moreton Pinkney have therefore been welcomed under Byfield’s banner.
This link should reveal a Google Map centred on Byfield.
Drawing a direct line between Catesby up north, The Boddingtons way out west, Culworth in the deep south and Little Preston in the far east, you'll see our District is a rough diamond (shape) covering about 160 square miles.
Villages and hamlets in west Northamptonshire now included in Byfield’s District are Aston-le-Walls, Upper & Lower Boddington, Canons Ashby, Catesby & Hellidon, Charwelton, Chipping Warden, Culworth, Eydon, Little Preston, Moreton Pinkney, Preston Capes, Woodford Halse and anywhere in between…
We submit that what might appear as a “catch phrase” i.e. “anywhere in between” is relevant to us because our geographical area is rural and includes many farms and dwellings outside and scattered between those villages mentioned. It is our intention that no one is “left out” and if they feel a particular local community e.g. West Farndon, is not covered by a named village, we hope they are comfortable with being “in betweeners”.
The formation of the RBL:
In our Chairman’s entry in the October/November 2015 edition of Byfield’s Parish Magazine "The Byword" he revealed that the RBL was not originally formed by any “official” body but by an individual, which emphasises the fact that it is the individual that is most important in any organisation such as ours.
For general interest’s sake, that article is précised below...
At the end of hostilities in 1918 not a family in Britain, not to mention countless families overseas on both sides, remained unaffected by the huge loss of life, and often horrendous injury both physical and mental suffered by many survivors. The Government of the time did not help most of those so obviously needing assistance, so Lance Bombardier Tom Lister from Lancashire took it upon himself to start raising funds to try to alleviate some of their physical and financial distress. With the eventual help of Earl Haig, Lister’s British National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers together with other similar groups became the British Legion in 1921; the first Royal Charter was granted to the Legion four years later. Lister was Chairman of the organisation until 1927 during which year he was appointed CBE in recognition of his efforts; he was finally knighted five years before his death in 1966.