More Modern Minal
As the parish moved into the twentieth century the many activities are either well recorded in various records and reports or are 'remembered' by the older members of the community - for this is now the time when we move into the realm of 'within living memory'.
The century began with a serious fire at a cottage in Werg, the small hamlet about three hundred metres to the south-east of the village. Here, in 1901, a cottage was 'impossible to save' when the fire engine arrived from Marlborough. Firemen concentrated their efforts on saving three others, while the occupants removed their furniture up to Cock- Troop in farm wagons. There were only ever nine dwellings in Werg, so a considerable proportion of them were involved. A boy, one of the family in the burned cottage, came before the Petty Sessional Court in connection with his alleged part in the fire. In 1983 the same hamlet saw the destruction of the Mill by a fire which started in the kitchen and spread to the whole building, despite the efforts of five fire crews.
It appears that the local name for the village is still considered an oddity by those who live outside. It is reported that a gentleman arrived in the parish in 1903 and asked a local "Can you tell me if this is Mildenhall ?" "Naw" was the response. "Can you tell me the way to Mildenhall ?" "Never heard of sich a place". "Have you lived here long?" "Barn'd heere". "And what place is this then ?" "Aagh, this heere's Minal." Exit the gentleman.
There were several reports of Rights of Way being in dispute during the opening years of the century - Deans Lane, the path from Axford boundary to Thicketts Copse and the path from Poulton Bridge to Minal Church (over the new railway line) were all being reported to the Rural District Council. It is perhaps interesting to note that just as much concern is still being shown over the same rights of way in the closing decade of this century
In 1910 the ceremony of 'Beating the Bounds' was carried out on Easter Monday (and taking two days). This ensured that the younger members of the parish could remember the line of the boundary and, in turn, pass on this knowledge.
An excavation, in 1912, which took place in the rear garden of a cottage in Werg brought to light a skull. The Surveyor's report indicated that a whole skeleton had been discovered. It was male and of great muscular strength, six feet in height. The cottage had the reputation of being haunted, and the locality is still known as 'Ghost Lane'.
It seems that certain factions in Minal were averse to the actions of Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. An effigy was made, hung on a pole for a week, mutilated and finally shot with a fouling piece, before being burned in the street.
As recently as 1941, the old Roman road - known as Greenway - was paved for the first time - the first time, that is, since the Romans built it originally in the first or second century.
In very recent years, Mildenhall has changed but little. There has been some modern building. The village acquired an army hut to serve as a village hall; this was replaced by a newer hall with a - remarkable Swiss roof, and in 1989 a third hall was built in its place. A small grouping of new houses came into being in the early 1980's in Church Lane, and a further group just north of the Post Office cross-roads. With these came an influx of new residents who have maintained the spirit of village community in Minal.
This ended a period of 122 years during which only three Rectors served. The Rectory was closed and the Benefice dissolved. The parish church was restored in 1980-81 after an appeal had been made, with Sir John Betjamin as its Patron together with Mr. John Piper. The parish church is still in regular use.
There are enough old cottages remaining to mark the years of the 17th and 18th centuries, enough farm houses to remind us of the great years of agricultural progress, the constant remainder of the wonders of Roman Cunetio still to come and the ever present defences of the Iron Age fort across the valley from the village.
Below: Poulton Bridge in the mid 19th century and the road through Minal in the 19th century.