Cecilia Emilie Rizza Bianchi
The owner of this extraordinary name was born in Islington in 1870. Her father, Aquilino Bianchi, was an immigrant from Italian Switzerland and had married an English girl in London. He was a painter, and moved to Cosgrove with his family by 1880 to work as a coach painter at Wolverton Railway Works.
Aquilino, his wife Emily, Cecilia, and the little one, Alice lived in cottages attached to the Old School, called Grimes’ Cottages. These were small, stone built dwellings, and in most cases were overcrowded. The Bianchi family was small for its time.
Cecilia learned to play the Church organ and from October to December 1891 was paid £1 10s for playing in the Parish Church at Sunday services.
A young man from Nash, named Oliver Richardson, was working as a gardener in Cosgrove, living at 2, The Green, one of the Church cottages, behind which the Mission Hall was being built. Oliver and Cecilia began walking out, and Oliver probably became involved in the building of the Mission Hall becoming interested in being a minister. Aquilino was selected as the worshippers’ representative at the foundation stone laying ceremony in 1905, showing the respect he had earned in the community.
In 1895 Oliver set sail from Liverpool on the Cephalonia, bound for Boston in America, from whence he took the train to New York. He sent his diary of the journey to his fiancée, Cecilia, back in Cosgrove.
Mrs Bianchi died in the same year, and shortly after that Cecilia made the voyage to join and marry her Oliver in America, where they settled in Southbury, Connecticut, and had two girls, Dorothy and Annie. Oliver became a Methodist minister, and Aquilino later came to live with Cecilia and her family for his remaining years.