The Fidoe family has been in the area for generations – a William Fidoe was married at St. Peter’s in 1684 – but it has inevitably split into several branches. Mrs. Sybil Fidoe married into The Tan House branch which contributed so much to village life.
The Tan House was so called because, up until about 1900, leather was tanned in an adjoining building. This was converted into a lovely private house by Mrs. Diana Atwell, Mrs. Sybil Fidoe’s eldest daughter, when she sold The Tan House itself to Richard and Sally Swift in 1979. Rosemary, the second daughter, died in 1986.
Sybil Hannah (nee Weaver) from Stourport married John Ronald Fidoe on28th October 1922. Ronald was the eldest of the three children of John Albert and Elizabeth Fidoe. He was a 2nd Lieut. in The Royal Artillery during the 1914-18 War, stationed in Italy.
Thereafter for the next 30 years he was a brilliant music teacher both privately and at schools in the South East, including one in Bromley, Kent. He and his family lived by the school during term time but returned to The Tan House during the school holidays. There they helped his parents look after their lovely gardens down to the Worcester Road, the 20 bee hives, the poultry and the large amounts of fruit. Sybil also helped the Darby & Joan Club and at church fetes. However, education would still have been a main topic of conversation.
Ronald’s mother Elizabeth, who had qualified at The Teachers’ Training College, Lincoln, had opened a school at The Tan House at the turn of the century as the tannery business closed. It catered for boys and girls from the age of 5. The boys left for the Worcester Grammar School aged about 9 but the girls stayed on until 16. The youngest were taught in The Tan House and the older children in a separate School Room which is now the kitchen and hall of The Old Tannery. The school had about 20 pupils, mainly the children of farming families. Those who came from afar stabled their ponies at the back of the house during school hours.
Mrs. Isabel Field, an ex-pupil, tells that Elizabeth Fidoe was strict and that the pupils really did have to work. The school had a wide curriculum including algebra but it specialised in English, French and Music and undertook to prepare pupils for the Cambridge Local Examination. Elizabeth was 72 when she closed the school in 1936.
Ronald’s parents – his father was a house decorator/plumber – had moved to Martley in 1877 from Cob House, Wichenford. They rented The Tan House from The Earl of Dudley but purchased it with 6 acres, the School Room and outbuildings, for £800 (about £45,000 now) at the auction, on 22nd June 1918, of The Earl of Dudley’s Martley Estate. This also included 1041 acres over 10 farms, The Crown Inn and the Post Office house with shop (nowThe Chandlery). This was purchased at the same auction for £900 by John Albert’s brother, Ernie Fidoe.
Ronald’s brother, Hugo Ernest, married Nancy Stear, a nurse at the Union Workhouse, just before the First World War. She died soon afterwards when Hugo, of the Worcestershire Yeomanry, was a POW in Turkey. His health suffered and, for the rest of his life, he had bouts of malaria. He married again, Ivy Summerton from Pershore, a distant relative living at The Tan House while teaching in Clifton-upon-Teme.
To give him employment, his father had the present Post Office and shop built in 1929 on land he owned down to The Crown. Ivy ran the shop and Hugo the Post Office and the petrol pumps outside. Hugo managed to get the Post Office business from his Uncle Ernie at the `top shop’, perhaps because the steps there were proving too much for elderly customers.
Hugo and Ivy, who had no children, rented Scar Cottage from the Nashes of the Noak before living at the Post Office. They sold out in 1951, purchased a house in St. Ives, hated it and two years later returned to a bungalow they had built on Fidoe land opposite The Tan House, now the extended and improved Homeland.
Ronald Fidoe died on 3rd October 1977, aged 89. An uninscribed old oak stool was given to St. Peter’s in his memory. He was buried in the Fidoe grave by the church porch along with his wife Sybil, his parents, his brother Hugo, who died in 1960, aged 70, and his sister, Phyllis Mary, who died in 1916, aged 22. Hugo’s second wife, Ivy, who died aged 84 in a Droitwich Nursing Home, was buried in the same grave on 19th July 1979.