Thomas Dent 1881 - 1971

Tess Taylor

Born in Fulbeck, Lincolnshire, Tom’s ancestors were employed as gamekeepers on the Belvoir estate. When he was thirteen, his father died following a shooting accident and so at the age of thirteen, he started work as a gardener at Fulbeck Hall. His reference when he left there in 1899 stated that he was thoroughly honest, sober, and industrious.

He went on to gain experience as foreman under glass or Head Gardener at such places as Belton House, Castle Ashby, Shobdon Court and Brynkinalt, Chirk, in addition, passing exams in Botany and Horticulture. He was called up at the start of the First World War but was rejected because of a heart murmur.

In the mid 1920s he moved to Honnington Hall, Warwickshire where as head gardener he constructed the ha ha in order that Lady Wiggin would have a clear view across the park and meadows.

It was sometime in the early thirties that he bought Hillside, Kingcombe Lane, Campden and moved there with his wife and family. There he set up the business of nurseryman and poultry keeper, supplying local shops with flowers, funeral wreaths, and wedding bouquets.  In summertime his wife, an excellent cook, did teas on the lawn, her reputation spreading as far as Birmingham

In 1952 while working in his garden at Hillside he dug up what proved to be a medieval stirrup that was admitted to the Department of Medieval Antiquities at the British Museum.

During the Second World War, a Wellington aircraft crashed in a field at Kingcombe Farm. Tom, first on the scene, attempted to rescue the pilot but was beaten back by the flames. All of the Polish crew were sadly killed and it was thought that the plane flew into the hillside in bad weather conditions.

Tom had several hobbies including beekeeping, astronomy and painting and was captain of his cricket team at Shobdon. He continued playing for Campden and in 1954, an article in the Evesham Journal stated that Campden second team played their oldest and youngest players, Tom Dent was seventy-three years old and David Stanley thirteen! Bill Buckland recalled Tom in the early fifties walking out to bat dressed like an Edwardian player. Furthermore Tom continued umpiring cricket well into his eighties!

Tom’s wife died in 1946 and his strength of character was demonstrated by his unstinting care of his disabled son, who he pushed in his wheelchair round the garden to wherever he was working and on cold days to the greenhouse. His daughter cared for her brother at weekends allowing Tom some respite on the cricket field.  He continued to care for his son, lifting and carrying him, until he was seventy-six years old when his son sadly died. Finding himself alone in the evenings he took up painting in oils and water colours.

Tom judged at several flower shows in the district including, for many years, the Broad Campden show. Like many countrymen he could accurately forecast the weather.

Tom rode his bicycle until he was eighty-eight and in the same year gave up poultry keeping, almost bent double from carrying the heavy buckets of feed.

He died at the home of his daughter in his ninetieth year.

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