Helen Ward

Helen was a lovely genial soul with a very healthy looking round, and usually smiling face, short in stature and slightly tubby. A great friend of Dr A.R. who often kidded her along re her description of things she had found – like “summat’s tooith” which was her description of a small item she had picked up and put in her small carpet bag where she put many of her treasured finds. When trying to cross a wee stream, she would call out “it,s wider than my strid” – meaning she needed help.

She was the daughter of Alfred Ward – Gamekeeper to Walter Morrison at Malham Tarn House – millionaire and M.P.  Helen had six sisters and five brothers all living on the Malham Tarn Estate and though the pay of a gamekeeper was quite modest, he would have a free house, free coal and a kitchen garden. Walter Morrison enjoyed the company of Alfred and loved his Dales tongue just as Dr.A.R loved Helen’s.

Being brought up at Malham and having the tuition of country matters from her father, she had a deep love of flowers, birds, animals and the landscape so we always had great respect for her comments. She would scribble field notes on bits of scrap paper and keep clippings and things from newspapers and journals – all would be put on the butchers hook which was kept handy so nothing was ever lost – it was her filing system !

She lived in Hetton when John Busfield and I got to know her – 1960’s and 70’s I suppose and we would pick her up from her cottage to go off on field trips, often with Dr.A.R. and we all enjoyed her chat. She lived with an elderly gentleman who was a step brother or something – always very quiet when we called but quite friendly.

It was Louise Standeven from Scale House near Rylston who transported Helen about quite a lot and was a very kind friend – I believe Helen worked at Scale House for part of her life. Louise became very much part of the ‘Raistrick Gang’ – a lovely young lady who was well liked by all.

Dr A R – Dr Arthur Raistrick

Les. Bloom. 28/9/18

Some time ago I was asked by the Field Society librarian to look at the botany books and see if any were surplus to requirements as space was very limited.

I did this and one of the books I came across was an old field guide which had belonged to one Helen Ward. This name resonated with me, knowing I had heard the name when I first became a member of the Field Society. Only one person would know I felt and asked Les Bloom and the above is the result.

The guide was interesting.

Helen Ward’s Field Guide

Published in 1908 and having many reprints, it divides the plants into sizes and within the size, colours. For example for May you could find under Small and Bluish, Germander Speedwell and Common Bugle, and then follows a precise description. The book is annotated  frequently with her own comments. Her notes  from Large and Bluish – Jacob’s Ladder – reads  Malham cove it used to grow. But she must have been unlucky on that occasion as it is still growing there now!

Sorry it took me so long Les!

Christine Bell