A Police Widow With a Mysterious Secret

Dave Thompson

Some people will remember the late Tom Buckland, who served for over thirty years in the Gloucestershire Constabulary.

 

Tom was stationed in the Forest, Charlton Kings, Whitminster and finally Cheltenham Central, reaching the rank of Inspector before he finally retired.  He has been dead for some years now, but his widow is living in Cheltenham, just off Leckhampton Road. I  visited Mrs Rosalind Buckland and enjoyed her recollections of a past era when Policemen’s wives took a great part in running our Police Stations. Photographs were readily produced of their wedding at Slad, where Rosalind was raised, and several pictures of Force members and their wives at Divisional and Sub Divisional Police Balls. The men, splendid in their dinner jackets, and their ladies in fine dance dresses. Memories of a bygone age.

Although I very much enjoyed the recollections as Tom Buckland was my first Inspector when I joined in 1962, I had a secondary reason to chat with Mrs Buckland.  She had grown up in the village of Slad in company with her cousin, Laurie Lee. Laurie, of course, became a world famous author, most notably for his autobiography, Cider with Rosie. The book was published in 1959, but the identity of the autonomous heroine was not disclosed. Twenty-five years later Laurie phoned Rosalind and asked if he could reveal the secret: Rosalind Buckland was Rosie in the book. When I asked about the episode of Laurie and Rosie under the hay-cart, Rosalind said that Laurie had really elaborated the story a little and that nothing really happened; but was there just a tiny mischievous twinkle in her eye as she said it?

At 96 years of age Rosalind was a remarkably fit and engaging person and still maintained her home and garden. It was a most memorable visit to a remarkable police widow. I think you could say that she is, and will continue to be, the most famous widow our Force has ever known.

Finally, I had wondered why the book had not been called Cider with Rosalind. Laurie had apparently said that he thought of that, but it did not sound quite right, so he called her Rosie instead and, as if more proof was needed, she still has a first edition inscribed,

To you know who with long ago love, from you know who.

This page was added on 24/08/2016.

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