Category: Community
Published on 15 March 2016

La Frenaye is a small town in Normandy. It is about 20 miles from Le Havre and 24 miles from Rouen.

It is located on a Roman road between Lillebonne and Rouen but the village itself probably only came into existence in the mid 14th century. It now has a population of around 2000 and many of the inhabitants work in the industries around Le Havre. 

There are many similarities between South Wonston and La Frenaye – our population is around 2700, we are a similar distance from the coast and major ports, enjoy a rural situation and  like La Frenaye have a church, school , doctors surgeries  and sports facilities in the village.

The idea of twinning with an English village came from a resident of La Frenaye, Germain Chevallier.  Germain’s first contact with English people was during the 2nd world war when a Lancaster bomber crashed near La Frenaye. The Pilot, navigator and the wireless operator were killed in the crash and their grave can be found in the La Frenaye church yard.  Four other airmen however parachuted down safely; one had the misfortune to come down in the middle of a German patrol and was captured but the others were hidden and cared for by the people of La Frenaye until the allied forces liberated the area.

Germain was very moved by the events and maintained a great respect for the English who had freed his village from occupation. In 1986 he and other residents of La Frenaye were looking to be twinned with a similar community in England.  A mutual friend of Rex Young from South Wonston and Dominic Annetta, the mayor of La Frenaye helped arrange the first visit in 1986. Our group was mainly lads from the South Wonston football team, led at the time by Gerald Tilley, and their fathers. Our team won the match 4-0 and a wonderful time was had by all. 

The official Twinning between our two communities took place on 2nd May 1987 as the results of contacts between Rex Young, Ron Welch and Germain Chevallier in the previous year. The aims were to promote and foster friendship and understanding between our two communities and to encourage visits to broaden our understanding of the cultural, recreational, educational and commercial activities of the linked villages.  A return ceremony took place in South Wonston the following year.

Many visits in the early years focussed around exchanges between children in the final year at South Wonston School and their counterparts in La Frenaye. The exchanges involved sporting activities, visits to nearby historic attractions, barn dances, and so on. In the late 1990s the school became less involved and the focus became more family oriented. We meet each other every year; arrange visits to places such as Mottisfont and the Milestones museum and have other more lively activities like skittles or tenpin bowling, and an occasional football match.  At the end of the visit we gather for a meal or buffet together, chat and enjoy a glass of wine or wholesome Normandy cider!  Whilst it helps to be able to speak English and French many amongst our groups only have a spattering of the other’s language but this is not a barrier amongst such friendly people.

This year, why not join us for our trip to La Frenaye on the weekend 24th-26th June. Watch out in the West Dever News for details of our plans.

Anybody who’d like to join us on the trip please get in touch with the  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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