The man who wore violets

Bird in Hand c.1930s PNL-150519-115922001
Bird in Hand c.1930s PNL-150519-115922001

David Simkins of Lower Stondon is sure he recognises his grandfather in the second of two photos we published of the old Bird in Hand pub at Henlow (May 8, 2015).

He says: “In the picture of the Biggleswade Harriers meet at the Bird in Hand, Stondon, I strongly suspect that the rider on the far right is my grandfather Tom Simkins who died in 1947.

Tom Simkins PNL-150519-115934001

Tom Simkins PNL-150519-115934001

“He moved to Mount Pleasant Farm, Stondon in 1904 (now Mount Pleasant Golf Club). He was a very keen rider and follower of hunting and he always wore a bowler hat as the rider in the picture does.”

Tom would also supervise the workforce around his farm on horseback and he would never be seen without a buttonhole - “usually violets or roses if they were in season”, says David.

This week’s photo is another view of the pub, kindly supplied by Julian Cakebread of Henlow, and shows the old Bird in Hand from a distance. The quiet crossroads is virtually unrecognisable to the busy roundabout junction today, and there is a vintage car in the foreground that would possibly date the picture to the 1920s/30s.

Thanks go to David and Julian for these further memories of a Henlow landmark.