"Jack" (Cecil John) Bailey, FSA



As you may have read in last month's BVN, Jack Bailey passed away on 5th October 2004 aged 90 years, after a very short and unexpected illness.


Jack was born in Chilcompton, Somerset on 17th July 1914 as his father (Cecil) went to fight in the First World War.   His father returned from the war to run the Pitt Rivers Estate at Rushmoor near Sixpenny Handley, where the family lived in one of the estate cottages.


In 1929 Jack's father, became manager of the Pitt Rivers Estate in Burton Bradstock and the family moved to the Bride Valley.  Jack's secondary education was at Marlborough Grammar School and during term time he lived away from his parents (with relatives) to be near the school.  His mother (Ada), a teacher, became the head of Long Bredy School.


In his late teens, Jack was befriended by the Foot family at Manor Farm, and worked on the farm in his spare time, becoming a firm friend of Bob and his brothers, sisters and relatives.  One of the sisters was Susan.


From 1933-1936, he trained as a teacher at King Alfred's College, Winchester, leaving with a distinction in Education.  His first teaching post, 1936, was at Dorchester Boy's School where he taught until the War.


In 1940 he volunteered for and was accepted by the RAF.  He and Susan Foot (Susie) were married on 25th March 1940, before he was called up for armoury training in the December.


Wartime was spent mainly overseas to the N. Africa desert.  Whilst there he trained and became a Meteorologist, and spent his spare time teaching English, French and Maths to many local children.


Returning home after the war he became Senior Master at Dorchester Modern School.  Four years later he was appointed Headmaster of Long Bredy School and the family, now including Andrew, moved from Portesham into the schoolhouse. 


In 1953, he applied for the headship of Litton Cheney School, and was there as Headmaster for 25 years until he retired.  Whilst living at Litton he became very involved with school, village life generally and the church and from 1959 onwards spent much of his spare time including school holidays studying, training and practicing local archaeology under guidance from the Dorset County Museum.  Jack and Sue even attended a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, in recognition of his local work in the Parish.


Jack and Sue retired in July 1978, to return to Long Bredy.   There they settled down to a happy retirement during which Jack wrote his book on  "The Bride Valley", containing Archaeological sites he had found, and the origins of the village names and their history.  He gardened, walked fields and hills, did more Archaeological digging, and often received visitors seeking knowledge of the local history, people and places. 


For many years, his wealth of knowledge in the Bride Valley, local history and archaeology resulted in his being asked to give informal talks, lectures and slide presentations to many organisations throughout Dorset.


His services to local history and archaeology were recognised in 1996 when he was made a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (FSA) and awarded the Ian Horsey Memorial Presentation for Archaeology by the Dorset County Museum.


Jack was well liked and well loved by all who met or worked with him.  He had a wonderful sense of humour, used liberally in his anecdotes.   He met Prince Charles when he visited Dorchester Museum.  Jack was sitting with another elderly gentleman, and Prince Charles came up to them and said "What part do you play in the Museum?"  Jack replied "Look on us as the Dad's Army of the Museum".


His way of life changed very little even after the loss of Susie (his wife) in September 2000.  Even 4 days before his death in hospital he was planning the various jobs he needed to do or get done when he returned home.  He remained active and alert until the end.

Andrew Bailey


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