The idea of twinning was first mooted in Southam in the 1980’s. On 31st March 1987 the then Mayor, Cllr Ken Connolly, called a public meeting which was attended by 34 residents and representatives of local organisations. It was resolved that, in principle, the concept of twinning be approved and that a steering committee be formed to discuss arrangements for a twinning link. One of that committee was Stan Hodges who became Chairman when the Southam Twinning Association was formed in 1991. Early meetings of the steering committee were held in the bar of the Craven Arms with each member paying 50p at every meeting in order to build up some funds. Stan Hodges served as Chairman until 2007. On his retirement, Stan was elected Life President of the association in recognition of his 20-year involvement in twinning. His successor as Chairman, Mike Hill, presented Stan with an engraved medallion and certificate to mark his many years promoting friendship between Southam and Marolles-en-Hurepoix. Stan had driven a small party on an exploratory visit to Marolles in 1990 and this led to the towns being twinned in 1992. A retired policeman born in Stockton, Stan was Southam's "Bobby", for several years. During his time in the chair he organised at least a dozen trips; welcoming French visitors to Southam on a similar number of occasions. Stan died peacefully in his sleep on 26th February 2015 at the age of 87.
Public meeting called by Town Mayor, Ken Connolly to discuss arrangements for a twinning link.
1987 - 1990
The steering committee hold regular meetings, usually in the bar of The Craven Arms, each member paying 50p per meeting to build up some funds.
A delegation of 4 from Marolles visit Southam in January.
In May, Stan Hodges, Lynda Pease and 2 others drive to Marolles for an exploratory visit to Marolles.
In June, a party of 12 visit Southam and, in the same month, 14 from Southam make a return visit.
Southam Twinning Association formed at a public meeting on 24th January.
Southam School pupils and Marolles children exchange visits: French children and teachers arrive in Southam on 24th May and stay until 28th May, visiting Stratford, Warwick and Oxford and attending Southam Carnival. On 29th May 39 Southam School pupils and 6 teachers make the return visit to Marolles,returning on 1st June, having visiting Paris and the St Vrain Wildlife Park.
Two trips are made in each direction. The first to Marolles includes trips by coach around the local area and to Paris.
Later in the year Southam & Marolles en Hurepoix are twinned with ceremonies being held in both towns. The highlight of the Marolles ceremony is the filling of champagne fountains by the two Mayors. The Southam ceremony is held in St James Church; a Barn Dance with fish and chip supper is held at the High School and roast beef is served at the Tarsus Restaurant for Sunday lunch.
Beacon lit on Cannon Bank, Shuckburgh Hall, on 31st December to mark the Single European Market.
A party of children from Marolles stay at the Southam Centre, School Street.
Cyclists from Southam visit Marolles.
Four people from Southam visit Coppenbrugge - the German town with which Marolles twins in the following year.
A party of children from Marolles stay at the Southam Centre, School Street.
In September Marolles twins with Lakamane, Mali, and 4 members of Southam Twinning Association attend the ceremony.
A group from Marolles visit Southam during October.
Southam visit Marolles
Marolles visit Southam; trip to Wellesbourne Watermill followed by lunch at the Charlecote Pheasant.
A party of Southam Guides travel to Marolles by minibus, staying at Centre de Loisirs.
Southam visit Marolles by coach; trips to Monet's home at Giverney and Chateau de Breteuil.
Southam Guides make a second visit to Marolles, travelling by Eurostar.
Marolles visit Southam; trips to Ashorne Nickelodeon and Upton House.
Southam visit Marolles; trip to Reims, visiting Cathedral and going on a Champagne "trail".
Marolles visit Southam; trip to Birmingham and the Black Country Museum.
Southam visit Marolles; trip to the Basilique de St Denis and Seine cruise by bateau mouche.
Marolles visit Southam; trip to Gloucester including cruise on River Severn.
Southam visit Marolles; concert in the church; trip to Chantilly.
Marolles visit Southam; trip to Tewksbury including ride on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.
Party of 23 adults plus 2nd Southam Guides visit Marolles; trip to Orleans.
Marolles visit Southam; trip to Bath
Stan Hodges, Chairman since the inception of the association in 1991, is elected Life President, with Mike Hill taking over as Chairman, Party visit Marolles, some by air from Coventry, some by Eurostar and some by car; trip to ancient town of Provins.
Marolles visit Southam; trip to Coventry
Party of 23 adults plus 2nd Southam Guides visit Marolles by coach; trip to Auvers sur Oise, home of Van Gogh, and Le Musee de Renaissance at Chateau Ecouen.
19 people from Marolles visit Southam. Trip to Broughton Castle, Banbury & Rollright Stones. Meal at the Woodhouse Hotel, Princethorpe.
A party of 24 travel by coach from Southam to Marolles over the Pentecost weekend; trip to Château of Breteuil and to the medieval town of Dourdan. The priest from Southam co-celebrates Mass in Marolles, a teacher from St Mary's visits the school and 2 police officers (one serving and one retired) are welcomed to the Gendarmerie.
The twentieth Anniversary of the signing of the Twinning Charters between Southam and Marolles-en-Hurepoix is marked by Southam welcoming thirty-five guests from Marolles over the weekend of 25th to 28th May. Members and their guests visit the Dudley Council-run Red House Glass Cone and Broadfield House Glass Museum. During the visit commemorative glass paperweights, made at the Glass Cone, are presented to each of the French visitors. The weekend is rounded off with an evening meal in the delightful setting of Dunchurch Park Hotel.
Southam’s visit to Marolles begins with the now traditional late arrival followed by a welcome reception in the Mairie. The main break with tradition is the weather -- cold, wet and windy. The Saturday picnic takes place under cover with collapsing awnings and chairs adding to the entertainment! Visits are made to a mielerie (honey producer) and an extensive garden specialising in medicinal herbs, with a museum of plants and herbal history. The afternoon rains cause the planned visit to a chateau gardens to be replaced by a visit to a traditional glass blowing factory.
A party of 25 from Marolles visit Southam, arriving on Thursday 8th May, as that is a French Public Holiday to celebrate the end of WWII. Friday, a blustery but sunny day, is spent at leisure with hosts, followed by a dinner at The Bell Inn, Ladbroke. The traditional Saturday outing is to the Leather Museum in Walsall with free time afterwards in Birmingham City Centre with the opportunity to visit the newly opened library, shops, art galleries and museums.
At the end of May, a group from Southam travel to Marolles, receiving the usual warm and generous welcome from our hosts, many of whom are now firm friends. Overshadowing the trip is the loss of two long-standing members of the Southam Twinning Association. Stan Hodges, who had been involved since a steering committee was first set up in 1987, died in February at the age of 87. Our Secretary, Andrew Moss, died in May at the age of 54 after battling illness since shortly after his retirement. Stan and Andy are missed on both sides of the English Channel.
Marolles visit Southam; the highlight of the weekend is a trip to Leicester to visit the Cathedral and the Richard III exhibition followed by a brief stop at Foxton Locks on the Grand Union Canal. The day was made more special by Leicester City’s recent success in the Football Premiership and, during the afternoon of our visit, the enthronement of the new Bishop of Leicester. The weekend concludes with a meal at the Great Western, Deppers Bridge.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the twinning of Marolles en Hurepoix in France with Southam. A group of 23 from Southam travel by coach to Marolles for a joint celebration of this milestone. A dinner is held at the Le Vinci Restaurant, Lisses, with lively entertainment from the group Beatlemania.Sunday is spent in Briare, a small town alongside the Loire, famed for its mosaic factory. We visit the Musée des Emaux, the church of St Etienne, enjoy a boat trip on the Briare canal and finally, Le Musée Conservatoire des Deux Marines et du Pont-Canal, not forgetting the traditional pique-nique, this time on the banks of the Loire.
Marolles visit Southam; the Saturday outing was to the Avoncroft Museum near Bromsgrove where, prior to a buffet lunch, we toasted the health of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on the occasion of their marriage. We then moved on to the town of Droitwich and the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church to view its mosaics. On Sunday evening we had an excellent meal at Hellidon Lakes with views over the rolling Northamptonshire countryside.
A small party of seven visit Marolles, travelling by air. The Saturday trip was to Versailles, not the main chateau, but the smaller buildings in the huge park, including the "Village" where Marie Antoinette played at being a milkmaid, the theatre, and the restored vegetable garden. Sadly, we missed our usual picnic, because alcohol was not allowed in the grounds. On Sunday we were entertained by a French Highland Band, complete with kilts and bagpipes, in a neighbouring village. The Sunday meal was at a small restaurant on the outskirts of Paris, and was the usual high standard.
Sadly, the planned visit to Southam of our French friends had to be cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.