Félicité Hardcastle

Author: Nfknowledge

The following contribution was written by New Forest Heritage Centre volunteer Chris Blake.

Born in 1902, Félicité Hardcastle grew up in Oxfordshire but had moved to Burley by the time she was 18. She lived there until she died in 1988, by which time she had become an established local historian and amateur botanist, and had been awarded the British Empire Medal for services to the community. The award citation described her as the ‘grand old lady of the New Forest’, but she immersed herself in village life in Burley before she was 20. She was particularly involved in the Scout movement as a longstanding Cubmaster and eventually Assistant District Commissioner. During WW2 she volunteered as a telephonist in Burley, assisting with the running of nearby military bases.

She was involved in numerous local clubs and societies, taught in the Sunday School, became a School Governor, and served on the Parish Council. Whilst on the Council she was particularly active in protecting Rights of Way. She recorded her detailed historical research in a book titled Records of Burley, and was involved in many archaeological excavations within the New Forest. Her passion was the accessible preservation of heritage for local communities, and the encouragement of young people. As a result, she lectured widely on local history and natural science at village events and Avon Tyrell youth centre. Her research notes, photographs, and letters were made publicly accessible at Hampshire Record Office after she died. These are now kept at Christopher Tower Reference Library in Lyndhurst, and act as testament to “Miss Hardcastle’s” dedication to her community and the heritage of the New Forest.

Sources:

Assorted Newspaper Articles: https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/38363179/miss-hardcastle-of-burley-royhodgescouk

Hardcastle, F. (1987). Records of Burley: Aspects of a New Forest Village. Spalding: Chameleon International.

Hampshire Record Office, Biography of Félicité Hardcastle, in ‘Hardcastle Collection Catalogue’.

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