Joan Wake

Joan lived in Cosgrove from 1937 to 1955 at Green Farm.

Joan Wake was born at the Courteenhall Estate in1884. She was taught at home but in 1913 took courses at LSE and began transcribing historical documents from her beloved Northamptonshire, travelling to villages and solicitors’ offices to rescue forgotten documents.

She helped to start Northampton Record Society and persuaded the Master of the Rolls to adopt her methods as a national scheme.

“She drove in and out of Cosgrove in a battered convertible car stuffed with a portable typewriter, several briefcases, boxes and a big handbag where she kept rolls of postage stamps, her glasses, cracked and mended with sellotape, a watchmaker’s magnifying glass and a few useful clothes pegs.”

At the start of the Second World War many of the Records were stored in Furtho Church, although the only bomb that fell locally was just in the field next door!

It was said that her mind became sharper the greater her opposition. Joan was offered the use of rooms at Lamport Hall to house the Records after the war, having persuaded the Minister of Works to relocate German prisoners! By 1959 she had organised the restoration of Delapre Abbey for storing the Records. She was unashamedly eccentric!

In Cosgrove, Joan was a tour de force in the WI and the Parish Council. Nationally she received the CBE in 1960. She died at Northampton in 1974. Her work has preserved historical records for Cosgrove and across the country.