Godfrey Jellyman (born 1923)
There’s Bussage Church and Bussage School so we used to go quite regular to school and church because it was the church people that paid for the school. If there was a coronation or anything like that we always had a big bonfire with hot potatoes and things like that. There were several of those over the years.
There’s what they call the House of Mercy which was girls at the Church. They used to run a laundry, they had a steam engine and someone to run it you know. They had quite big hampers and would go all round on horse and cart and take the clean hampers to the big houses. They went right round Oakridge and right round there. They didn’t dress like nuns but of course it’s Catholics isn’t it, it was to do with the church After that, a man down the village, Mr. Scott, he bought himself a lorry and he used to go round then but still doing the same thing. It was quicker and they got rid of the horse. The girls used to be marched to Bussage Church every Sunday. Of course, there’s a monastery now. They had their own chapel down there but sometimes they (girls) had to go to Church. They were just poor people. The vicar lived at Brownshill House because that was halfway between Bussage Church and the girls. But the actual vicarage was at Bussage by The Ram.
(At Chalford Hill School) on a Friday we used to have bible class in the old France Lynch church rooms and Mr. Richards, the vicar, would come and take us. Most pupils were Church of England.
Anne Sutton (born 1927)
My oldest sister, Joan, was very musical, played the piano beautifully, she learned the organ as well and in the fullness of time she became the organist at the Baptist Church we attended. Then she married a Christian Scientist, their church is in Stroud so she transferred there. This meant Chalford Baptist Church didn’t have an organist so my father, who was an organist, stepped into the breach when nobody else could be found. He said he would do it on a temporary and free gratis basis. Forty years later he was still going. My mother took over the choir, it was a very good choir, they used to put on things like The Crucifixion at special times. They used to come from far and wide to hear it.
(School outings) were supposed to be cultural things, not just going to the seaside, that would have been from Sunday School. At one time at Sunday School, Smart’s, who owned the coal wall (?wharf) down at Chalford, still there isn’t it, they used to sweep out the coal lorry and take us up to Aston Down. We would play games and run races and things and have a good tea. Whether we ended up covered in coal dust I don’t know. I think I remember one or two outings to Weston.
(During the war) I can remember watching dogfights going home from the Congregational Church Sunday School (just below where Sawyers is). It used to get full all the time the church.
The (C. of E.) Church held two Services, one at 11 a.m. and one at 6 p.m. In the afternoon there were two Sunday School classes run in the France Lynch Church rooms. Miss Doris Halliday took one class and Miss Audrey Gubbins the other.
When Confirmation classes ended and the time came for the confirmation of the students, these took place in a larger Church where candidates from several parishes took part. St. Lawrence Church, The Shambles, Stroud.
The Church held two functions yearly. One was in June to coincide with St. John the Baptist Day and the other was at Christmas. The Church fete was initially held in the vicarage (then adjacent to the churchyard) and in the Church Rooms if wet. But it was also hosted by Mr. Viscar (not sure of spelling of his name) at Dundry Lodge and Major Denne at The Laregan a couple of times.
There was usually a Sunday School Outing in the summer to Weston-Super-Mare or Severn Beach. Weston was quite a journey then. We would go by coach (run by Brian Beavis) and as it was such a long way, a stop would be made on Bristol Downs by the Water Towers. This stop would be called today a ‘comfort stop’.
The France Lynch Rooms were used for quite a lot of different things. The France Lynch Brownie Pack had their meetings in the upstairs room. There was a Youth Club weekly on a Friday where table tennis, badminton, to name two, were played. Village Socials took place here too – these were basically dances with refreshments. Country Dance lessons were given here, great fun had there, but it was usually women & girls taking part in these. Plays were put on and I can remember one Variety Show, with a great deal of laughter. It was hired for wedding receptions too. Mothers Union & Womens Institute also had their meetings in the rooms.
There was a hut in the lower half of the Pleasure Ground the YMCA . It was used for several activities. A Mr. Cambridge or Mr. Tritton used to run a Boys’ Club where he would teach them boxing skills. The France Lynch Scouts held their meetings there under the guidance of Mr. Wood. At a different time, the France Lynch Guides would meet there with Mrs. Wood taking these sessions. It was licensed for dancing and the sale of alcohol too.
Next was The British Legion in what is now called Haywards Lane. Again this was licensed for music, dancing & alcohol. As the name suggests it was originally started for Service personnel. It could also be hired for wedding receptions and private parties.
The Chalford Sports & Social Club came about when the owner of the field donated it to the local community for sports. The men and boys of the village spent hours on their hands and knees picking up stones to make the field suitable for football and cricket. The club house was built much later (1970s maybe). When it first came into use for dances and cabarets, the local skittle team, tennis players, footballers and cricketers took it in turn to run the bar, get the venue ready and latterly clean up afterwards. It was run this way for a number of years and was very very popular.
The village had its own brass band, Chalford Silver Band. Besides playing at local fetes and fancy dress parades they were hired to play at the different public houses and in the summer travelled to play at Stratford Park and, on at least one occasion, Bourton on the Water.
George Gleed (born 1930)
There was a Catholic community there (Brownshill). Miss Kessler and Miss Hudson ran it. They would have different men staying there. They were not up to it mentally, quite harmless and friendly. There wasn’t any anti-Catholic feeling in the village that I noticed.
The laundry girls used to do some laundry work but we didn’t know much about it. No-one could afford to have laundry done in the 30s. I remember the big house they had built there and the Church. It was called Temple Wood. St. Raphael’s was another house they had built.
We always went along to the Women’s Institute at Bussage for festivals (e.g. Silver Jubilee, George V) There was games and somebody would do some comedy. It was quite good. We used to look forward to it as it was pre wireless times for us. We used to play cards and things like that. Nothing of any consequence.
Grace Banyard (born 1930)
We had Guides and Brownies. We had plays. I can remember being a cowslip and I went out in the field to pick cowslips which were all round my dress. Doris ran the Brownies.
Jenny David (born 1933)
Everyone just called the Tabernacle ‘the Tab’. It was just its name. It was properly the Chalford Baptist Tabernacle. Everyone knew it as the Tab.
Vesta Rock (born 1934)
We had a skittle team at the sports club. We were 10 of us. And the people who had been running the old people’s party for years. They were giving up. And I thought, well we’ll take this on. And what a success it was. It knocked spots off what had gone before. They used to hold it at the legion and they’d given them trifle or something. A crowd of ladies had run it and they didn’t have any restrictions on who to invite. Well, we did. We had a line – we had boundaries – the bridge along here, the corner along here. 65 – if your husband was younger he couldn’t come. We had to draw the line because we were looking at a hundred people. We went to the committee and they agreed with us that that line was going to be forever. Of course we had to earn money to start with – we had rummage sales, dance, raffles. Our first party cost us £600. We put a big notice in the paper, ‘If you need transport for the party, contact Mrs. David’. She had a list of drivers. We had to entertain them. I went around to all the pubs to collect money, went to the shops and said ’can we have a discount for the old people’s party, or have you got something you could give us for the raffle?’ The first year we had Craig and he was giving out sherry. You had to entertain them but you were entertaining people of 85 and people of 65. Big difference. We had the chappy on the piano. Brilliant. People wanted to come. But people who had left the village, they couldn’t come. I think this was the late seventies. We said we’ll run it for 10 years and we raised the money really fast. We had this wonderful bazaar at Eastcombe Hall and I rang Shire Hall and said it’s for charity so we had it for nothing. We had Mr. Derby’s Father Christmas. We had stalls, we had jams and pickles. This was just once a year, a Christmas. But we had to make money throughout the year. We had a knitting group. No-one else will run it now.
Shirley Bushell (born 1943)
Christ Church was our local church and in my time the school and the church were just inseparable. If you went to school you went to church, Sunday School, and you were expected to join the choir!
We used to have a youth club in the church rooms which is the village hall now. Run by Sylvia Padin on a Monday evening. In the summer we used to go up to the Vicarage field (called the Parsons now) and play rounders. Church fetes were held up there then. There was a Mr. Carder to start with when I was growing up, then a Mr. Taylor, then we had quite a few vicars who came and went quite quickly. Peter Vaals died the year before I was born so I don’t remember him. Most of the (wood) work in the church was done in the 30s and 40s, as was the font. This particular vicar, Mr. Carder, was very much into Arts and Crafts. So it was replaced during his time. I think he commissioned it and he seemed to be able to find the money for anything he wanted done! Whether it was mill owners or what I don’t know. We have him to thank for all that.
Lots of things happened in the vicarage garden – they had this big field. Vicars always had big houses in those days. It’s a lovely house. We had the village fete in the summer there. We always had a fancy dress – we all dressed up, usually something made in crepe paper! There were stalls and everyone in the village took part. It was always raising money for the church. Then we had a harvest supper.
We also had the Girls’ Friendly Society which was a church based thing which we did one evening, and we also used to go to what we used to call a Magic Lantern Show in the Wesleyan Chapel where the Owens live now. It was the people who lived there who put it on. It was an interesting evening for us children.
Gerald Gardiner (born 1933)
I went to Sunday School up Coppice Hill, not the big one. It was like church rooms. You get to the cemetery through it or the top. They had the boys’ club there and that. The other Sunday School was along the valley, as you start to come up through the valley, you had the post office and the shop and on the brow of the hill and there was the Wesleyan Sunday School. I think everyone went to Sunday School then. It was in the early afternoon I think.
Margaret Mills (born 1934)
Whilst I was growing up, I went to Sunday School at the Baptist Tabernacle, where we still go, and into my teens I started teaching Sunday School there and taught on and off for about 25 years I suppose. I was baptised there and we were married there.
I knew Mike’s sister so I knew him through his younger sister, Jackie. They all went to the church. We had a nice young people’s fellowship there and people paired up and got married. Some stayed and some went away. 60 years ago now. It was a really big wedding, married in our church and reception in the church rooms. About 100 people – relations and friends and my work friends. We were married on Easter Saturday then went to London for a few days on the train.
I belonged to the Girls’ Brigade for many years in our Baptist Church – like the Boys’ Brigade, the girls’ section. We had quite a thriving thing there. We would do all sorts of things, such as PT, I used to take a PT class – it was after the war. There was a Guides and Brownies in the village but we didn’t go there. We belonged to a tennis group; you know where the old Congregational Church is there was a court at the back there.
There were very often outings from the village – Weston was the usual thing because it was more convenient. The Sunday School organised it often, and my Dad used to organise outings too.
We had relations in Brownshill and would walk up there on a Sunday and we knew there was a Catholic community here but we didn’t know much about it. I think there was a laundry there with unmarried mothers but it wasn’t talked about. Amazing the things we weren’t allowed to talk about.
Graham Hobbs (born 1953)
I came to Eastcombe in 1975. Yvonne and I were both involved with the Mission Hall – a tin tabernacle in Brownshill, running the Sunday School. It was just about to close so we took it on and moved to Brownshill. We ran it on a Sunday afternoon and sometimes for other activities and in school holidays. We were helped by people at Eastcombe Baptist Church. They were a real asset to us. In practice it was a satellite of Eastcombe Baptist Church though I am not sure the trustees there would call themselves Baptists. When we left it became a place for someone next door to store his lawn mowers and other items. He bought it when we moved away in 1987 but we’d actually stopped the year before.
John Wesley:- We were looking at the local church history and found that John Wesley had preached to about 400 people in Chalford with limited success. He had more success in Stroud standing on an old butcher’s block.
He also came to Eastcombe but he gave up on Eastcombe. But the curious thing about Eastcombe is that some obscure Welshman turned up in 18 something or other and at a place where the local pub would empty out onto on a Sunday afternoon and start fights; this guy in 1807 stood there and preached and got 7 converts! So he started Eastcombe Baptist Church. His name was Thomas Williams. The Tabernacle was full in those days – for a place the size of Eastcombe to attract 400 people was something.
Now it’s rather set in its ways with much reduced numbers but it’s turned round before. They worked very hard for the nine years we were members and then I started to move on spiritually and we moved to the Baptist Chapel down Coppice Hill. That’s got a bit flat lately because various people have moved away and there’s a lack of youngsters. There was an amazing guy there who turned it round from six old age pensioners. Then he moved on.
All the houses on the bottom road at Brownshill were convents. The big one, St. Raphaels, had been one of the laundries for the girls who had misbehaved. It’s now a house. The monastery here today used to be a place for monks who had psychological problems but now it’s full of nuns.
Beryl Freebury (born 1941)
I had started school (in Eastcombe) when I was three and a half. The Baptist pastor frequently called in as the school belonged to the Baptist chapel next door. We always started school with a prayer.
(Derek and I) knew each other from primary school and on a Friday night there was a youth club in the primary school and both sets of parents were church people, so we joined the choir and we met at choir practice on Thursday nights when I was nearly 16 and Derek nearly 18. My parents were quite strict and we used to go for a quick walk – had to be back home by 9.30. We used to hope and pray choir practice wasn’t that long! At Christmas and Easter there were anthems to practise so it would go on and we wouldn’t have much time!
We used to have a choir outing to Weymouth, Bournemouth or Brighton with Beavis coaches for the day and take a picnic. My father was church warden at St. Augustine’s and there was always a Sunday School party at Christmas and on Mothering Sunday when the church was absolutely packed and he would organise a pot plant for every child to give to their mother, either a polyanthus, hyacinth or daffodils. That was quite a big thing.
When I was in my teens and living at home, I was a Sunday School teacher, and you had stamp books and there was a space for a stamp every week, and if you attended each week you got a stamp and if you had a certain percentage for the year you would get a prize – the first year you would get a prayer book, second year a Bible and then different books for other years. They were lovely stamps depicting Lent, Advent, Trinity, from the Church calendar.
The Sunday School teacher was a volunteer. It was Mrs. Andrews who taught me and she was an elderly lady and she was very much into the village. She was also interested in the Girl Guides which I belonged to and she tested me for my cookery badge. The Scout and Guide HQ wasn’t built until 1987 so it was always in the Village Hall.
Up until July 1966, Eastcombe was part of the Parish of Bisley and then, in 1966, they decided we would attach to Bussage Church, and up until then we’d had a church magazine once a month so three of us decided we’d do a newsletter for the village. The first edition was a fullscap sheet in July 1966, and in November this year (2018) it will be the 600th edition and I’ve been doing it since it started! It was a lot more trouble when we had the old Gazette printer with the stencils etc. and the other two people collated it all. It was about the Sunday school, we always put in the birthdays of the attendees, weddings, funerals, Guides, Brownies, they would write something, The WI would write something and we had a men’s club. Same as today, all the organisations would put an article in and I cut the stencils and did the duplicating. Like today, we had people to deliver in the village. To begin with it was just the Eastcombe Newsletter. We didn’t want it to be a church magazine so it could include everyone in the village. It was paid for by a subscription. Now it’s £5.50 a year for 11 copies, no copy in January when it’s difficult to get it printed as most factories close down at Christmas. For the last 25 years they’ve been printed. My brother in law and sister had a printing works so they did it until they retired and now we go to Leopard Press on Selsley Common. We print 635 copies a month now. There are 41/42 delivery people as it covers the Estate and Bussage and Brownshill and Bismore. For the last 10 years I’ve had someone doing the computer work and she will e-mail it to the printers and I just collate it all. I always write a letter in the front. That’s gone well. We have dates for a diary on the back and the football and cricket fixtures and WI news.
I remember Good Friday the ladies used to go down into the woods and pick violets, primroses, bluebells, cowslips to decorate the font at the church. For Ascension we used to go to Bisley by coach for dressing the Wells. We had a day off from School then. We would go to the church service, take our flowers and go to the wells then have tea at the WI hall and then up to the Recreation Ground and have sports. We weren’t made over welcome by the Bisley children so it stopped! We used to call it a bun fight!
There was always Guides. The Guide Captain was Miss Masters. She came with the nuns from London during the war. She worked, but I remember whenever she decided we would celebrate something she sent a note saying ‘please bring a little food’ and she got know as that ‘please bring a little food’! Then I did Cubs in Eastcombe in the early 60s when our eldest boy was Cub age. The Akela said she couldn’t do it anymore so I took the Cubs for 15 years and Derek used to drive the minibus when they went on camp down to the New Forest, Forest of Dean, West Wales, and we went to Cranham which is the HQ. Then Beavers came along and I was asked if I would start the Beaver Colony. The story is that Princess Michael of Kent wanted their son to join Beavers. They always came to Nether Lypiat Manor every weekend and I’d been vetted (I didn’t know I was being vetted) by the royal authorities. The son was with us for a year and quite often his sister Gabriella would come too. Friday dinner times I’d be home for one and I would get a phone call from Kensington Palace to say they would be coming and the nanny would come too.
It must have been 1987 when the new HQ was built and we had a big ceremony at Thomas Keble. We had the Chief Scout and they all had to make cakes and Freddie came with his box of cakes. He was invested down at Bussage Village Hall when we were using that. Princess Michael of Kent sat there and entered into the games. She was lovely. It was at a time she was getting a lot of publicity. It was when she was known as Princess Pushy. I found her very pleasant. Freddie used to come running in and give me a hug. He won’t remember now.
Derek Freebury (born 1938)
I played football and cricket for Eastcombe. We had to go to other places for matches. I was Treasurer for Eastcombe Football Club for 20 odd years then I got involved with Stroud District Football League and would go to meetings every two months to represent the club. Meetings were at the top of Union Street, where the market is in Stroud, and then they moved to the Sub Rooms, then to a social place in Stonehouse and at the moment they have it at Frampton on Severn. I’m still on the management committee of the League now (2018) and a life member of the League.
Audrey Bishop (born 1932)
We went to St. John’s Church with my grandfather. My mum didn’t because we were young you see, so she would stay here producing meals, you might say. We children had to go to Church because my grandfather was strong on his Church. One sat on one side of him and one sat on the other side, and that was it: ‘shh! Shh!’ We used, me and Maurice, we’d get our handkerchiefs, look, and tie them in a knot like this, you see, and then put it down like this so the handkerchief sort of had a head with a veil on it and we’d be going behind our Gramp’s back! (laughter). And we used to play men (?) behind our Gramp’[s back. I’m afraid Maurice and I didn’t like church at that time, but I go to this day. (Later) I used to look after the building. I did as much as I could possibly do. I used to do a lot – cleaning and whatever wanted doing that I could do, I did. Because you make a lot of friends if you’re a regular attender and of course, when we were children, we had to be regular attenders. There was a Sunday School up at the Church rooms. But that church rooms turned into a factory during the war. We had Sunday School in Church (during the war) as far as I remember.
There were guides but I didn’t belong to them. My aunt – my father’s sister was – what would you call her – a superintendent of IOGT – the International Order of Good Templars. We used to call it ‘I owe Granny Tuppence’! And she was, you didn’t want to say a naughty word or – she was one of them. Strict. It was a religious thing. She was Baptist. My family, my side, were brought up Church of England.
There were often outings with the Church. Weston or Severn Beach or somewhere like that. I don’t really remember going any further afield. The coach would come up and collect us. Up on Thrush (Thrupp?) Roads. Yeah I can remember going there.
There were Church fetes occasionally. More often than not, depending on the weather, it would have been in the vicarage garden. But if it was bad weather, up in the church school, or up the road.
Nancy Gardiner (born 1924)
My dad was a Baptist missionary (in Burma) but he changed to (Plymouth Brethren). Stan and I got married at the mission chapel at Brimscombe corner in 1947. That was Plymouth Brethren. (Later) I joined the Baptist Church where he (Stan) went, where I still go when I go, but it was joining the WI that was m lifesaver. To start with people looked on you as a foreigner in the village. The Church wanted to borrow our field for the fete and we said help yourself, use the kitchen, teas on the patio etc. One of the Church said she didn’t want to walk about amongst cow patches. That’s how much she appreciated it! They were funny, they didn’t like new people in the village.
Two or three of us had started a WI at Brimscombe so I thought, when I moved, that I’d go to the one at France Lynch and I went to introduce myself and ask to join. The one in charge wasn’t over welcoming but (luckily) there was another two people who were new about the same time as me. One wanted to start a drama group, Mrs. Mallow. So we started this drama group and we got to know everyone. That was my life saver. I did run the drama group for a while and we used to compete in the Gloucestershire ones – we got second and third occasionally.
May Smith (born 1924)
We went to Sunday School every Sunday at France Lynch Church. Easter bonnets on Easter Sunday. We were Church of England, not Chapel. I got married there as well.
Judith Newman (born 1943)
I got married in this village. Again, as I lived in that part of the ecclesiastical parish, I had to get married at St. Mary’s (Bisley?) which I’d never set foot in. I’d gone to St. John the Baptist Church all my life, confirmation classes, Sunday School, evening services, we’d go, and yet when I got married I had to go to that church. You couldn’t choose, they were very strict in those days. I got married in 1965 so yes, it was very strict. So I don’t know whether I would have had any choice, but that was what I had to do.
I used to like going up to St. John the Baptist Church, we used to go there for Sunday School. I went there for Brownies, I loved Brownies. It was in the church rooms opposite the church, and the welfare was held there for the babies and mothers. Women’s Institute I suppose was held there. My mother used to go to Mothers’ Union. I suppose that was there as well. It was a lovely old building. I never realized it had been the primary school once. It was the church primary school for that church, you know, when the British School was behind. So two Church Schools and one British School in this village once – not in my time though as it wasn’t a school then, but Sunday School, yes.
I don’t know a lot about Brownshill and the Catholic Community. On our Sunday walks we sometimes walked as far as Brownshill, down to Toadsmoor, but Brownshill itself we didn’t know much about it, never went there to visit, didn’t have any friends there; and one Catholic building, I always understood it was a refuge for Roman Catholic priests or something. I know nothing about the laundry there. It was a bit of a mystery really. I think anything Roman Catholic was a bit, you know, off boundaries – it was weird wasn’t it.
The Baptists were very strong then, weren’t they, and I used to go to the Baptist Church when I first came here to this area, it was the closest to home and I must sometimes have gone to their services, but not very often. But our neighbours were very strong Baptists; it was very active and a lot went on there, but my mother didn’t ever go there. And the Congregation Church, of course, was quite active then as well, which is just houses now. A nice building. We attended Sunday School there too.
The 7th Day Adventists’ building was there but I knew nothing about it. There were so many denominations though, I don’t know what they were, we had a bit of everything really.
There was a church choir at France Lynch and one at Christ Church as well but they weren’t brilliant. There was a very lovely deep base I remember. Of course, there was Chalford Silver Band which used to play at fetes and things, but I don’t remember ever being invited to join a choir. My father was always in the choir when he was a boy – he used to go to concert parties and things like that, so having been a choir boy he would have joined, you’d think.
Peter Clissold (born 1931)
I was one of four generations of choristers at Bussage Church, and I was organist there for about 11 years, yes always had a good association there. It was an old pump organ there and eventually, when the bellows broke, we had new motorised ones so it was a lot easier. Before my time, the organist’s blower used to walk up twice a day all the way up from Brimscombe. The church was very run down at the start of the war, but we had a man come called Father Abell, now he came from the Isle of Dogs, in London, where they were very badly bombed – he had a bit of a breakdown there – so they sent him out to Whiteshill to be priest in charge there, and then they made him vicar of Bussage and he turned the church round to a pretty full house. He was one of those who could really motivate things and people. He was a splendid man. His grave is alongside the church, just this side of the altar.
My mother, Lilian Aldridge, was from Chalford and she was very musical and she always liked to be in all the WI plays and that kind of thing.
You always thought of Eastcombe as ‘chapel’ and Bussage as ‘church’. The church in Eastcombe was originally the school and Bussage Church wasn’t going to be built where it is, it was going to be built further along. They started measuring out the place and size – in fact the piece of ground is still there in a square – as soon as they started they realised, looking at all the walls, that they were near the fault that goes all the way up the valley. They couldn’t put a church right by there, so they moved it to the site where it is today. They had to drive big stakes into the ground before they started as there are two streams coming out near to where it is now. It cost far more than they ever thought it would do. It’s all this Fuller’s earth around here and inferior ooolite. When they get together you’ve got a bit of a problem!
We didn’t have a Boys’ Club in Bussage and the only Scouts were at Eastcombe, so I didn’t belong to anything at all. We didn’t have much going for us. You see the Men’s Institute closed down during the war and it never re-opened afterwards. All the windows were smashed and the billiard tables were damaged and it never got going again. But it must have been well used in its day, the football team always changed there and they had the billiards tables – but that was well before the war apparently.
Hayden Hunt (born 1941)
Harvest Festivals: I can remember when I was older, we had the special services, you had to march round the church; I had to hold the cross and that and the choir had to follow and all that sort of thing.
Choir: Yes, we had some fun in those times. Didn’t get paid, well I think you did on a wedding or a funeral sometimes, but it was minimal anyway you know. I had to go ever Sunday, morning song and evening song, and then in between it might have been, you know, what used to be a school religious thing in the day, so it could be three times a day, scripture or whatever. We went to School for teaching stuff, but the church was the main, for the services. And I used to tonk the old bell, to get ‘em in! It was well attended in those days, oh yes, crickey, yes heavens. There was a big choir as well. A good choir as well. You just got used to, you know, services on a Sunday and then you had the special ones, like you know Harvest Festival, Christmas. For Harvest Festival, we used to take something along, a few bits of stuff, because of course it all went to charity afterwards anyway. It was what you used to do. They were good services, I used to enjoy them, you know; some of them were a bit boring, going on a bit about a load of old rubbish, and you would go off to sleep, but no, you just got on with it, you know. I used to like singing, I had a pretty good voice at the time until it cracked. (Once my voice broke) I could still sing but as I was getting then 15, 16, there were better things going on then, wasn’t it. I used to skip a few services – ‘Where is he then? He’s gone off somewhere!’
I joined the Girl Guides in the pleasure ground, Brantwood Road, in the YMCA hut – they had dances there as well.
I went to Sunday School at Hyde. I think that was one of the rules for Gran looking after me, otherwise I’d have to have gone into a children’s home too I expect. I can remember the Christmas party and even remember the book I got as a present; it was called The Big Book of Babies, it was about babies in different countries and what they did. The first one was an African one.
The vicar of Brimscombe came once a month to Hyde Mission but we had Sunday School teachers.
Wednesday (at Christchurch School) the vicar from Chalford Church used to come down. He lived in the vicarage just up the road. The Headmaster used to have to send a couple of boys up the road to wake him up because he did a service at the school.
George Rowles (born 1928)
When I came up to the Bourne I went to the Methodist Church in Brimscombe,then I left the church, I didn’t go to like most people do, like you know. And then I married my wife, she comes from the Rhondda Valley, she comes from Treorchy. And her mother was such a good woman I thought to myself, you know that lady’s got something I haven’t got. So I decided then, well I’ll try and see what she thinks about things and then I went to church regularly.
Brownshill: I’ll tell you a little story about the Catholics; the people that looked after the, I call them the naught priests, they were called the ‘Servants of the Paraclete’. And before they came, there was two women had the money to form a community in Brownshill, which they did……and one was Miss Keswell and one was Miss Hudson. And Miss Hudson, she was the daughter of the people, they had plenty of money, that was ‘Blue Bird Sweets’, you know. I don’t know if you ever remember, but there was ‘Blue Bird’ became quite well known, well they were Cadbury sweets. And she, she was the daughter, the father had the business then, and Miss Keswell, she was come from Germany, and they formed the Community you see. And one of the interesting things, The Hollies, which is over there, that’s privately owned now, a lot of them, most of them are privately owned now, they belonged to the Community. The man who witnessed the bombing of Hiroshima, Group Captain Cheshire (of Cheshire Homes), he lived there for a bit. And Bader, Douglas Bader, a pilot, he had no legs; he came into the shop and he was so big headed, he said ‘I’m Douglas Bader!’ – so he visited. That was two famous people that lived, who come from that house out there. The nuns, they’re all nurses, I don’t know much about them now, because when they came first they said were all ex teachers…
It was always quite religious in Brownshill, but it used to be the Church of England, where they are now (Catholics) and it was used as like a laundry. I’ve never seen them, but I’ve heard of them. Well they worked down there I think it was. And two people I knew they were orphans, and they lived down there when they were young. But it was a rather sad time for Brownshill really, what happened to them.
There were priests sent here who had been naughty, well, but ninety per cent of them were alcoholic. ’Cos I didn’t have no bad feeling about ‘em, because when you think about it, a priest, it’s an unnatural life in’nit, you can’t, you can’t you know, marry. The saddest job when they left was there was a priest he committed suicide down by Brimscombe Station, and he was only, well he wasn’t a naughty chap at all, but he fell in love with a woman in Ireland and instead of, and which I would have done, said ‘well I’ll still be a priest but go into the Church of England because they don’t stick to that’. And they sent him here and he felt guilty I suppose and he committed suicide.
Keith Weaver (born 1932)
During the war I joined the Scouts. I remember walking home after some of the meetings in the Congregational Hall. We camped with the Scouts – 1944 Avening and 1945 Symonds Yat. Me and my friend done the cooking for our tent and for the chief’s tent when we was fifteen. Congregational Church was where we had Scouts and then we moved to the Tabernacle. We both went to Sunday School at the Congregational to start with, then I moved to France Lynch (wife’s grandfather was deacon at the Congregational). Mr. And Mrs. Gurd (from the Cong.) were a bit pushy really – I didn’t like it there and my mother’s friend took me to France Lynch church and I did like it. I was christened at 10, 13 confirmed and 18 married and I’m still here. We got married at France Lynch church with a Chalford vicar because the France Lynch vicar was on holiday that week.
My mother was into everything, Mother’s Union, Women’s Institute. She was one of the ones who first started it in France Lynch. I have got a tea service that was given to her when she left.
When I was 10, I joined France Lynch Church choir. I became a server then a member of the Guild of Servants of the Sanctuary. On occasions the vicar, Reverend Keir, took three of us to a church at either Gloucester, Cheltenham or Tewkesbury to meet the other servers for an evening service.
George Juggins used to come to church for communion, he was confirmed and he always had this thing about him, he’d come in a bit late to be seen and he’d walk right up to the front.
We used to have the church sale in the summer and have games and all that sort of thing, tombola and things in the garden of the church. My Dad went to Chalford Church because he lived in St. Mary’s when he was growing up and my Gramps buried there but of course being here I went to France Lynch. I was confirmed in Stroud Parish Church. They had processions along the valley but most things was done up here because of the school.
I never done any plays at school but at church we had a good vicar, and Saturday evening club with the choir. We had badminton, the vicar played the piano for a bit of country dancing, then we done four or five plays and even a pantomime. The vicar produced it all, played the piano and did the scenery. I helped him do some of the scenery. He had two daughters in the choir at the same time. He was brilliant to help us in every way.
Ross Forsyth (born 1940)
The Scouts were the ‘First France Lynch Air Scouts’ and met at the Church Rooms in France Lynch, and later on there was a hut built for the army cadets which we ended up sharing with them. We went camping – first one run by Mr. & Mrs. Wood, the Scout and Guide leaders. We went to Througham one time, and the highlight was we walked into Stroud half way through the week to watch the Robin Hood film. One of the kids was so fed up with the camping that he walked home instead of going back to camp! Then we camped in Bourton on the Water. Good visit to Little Rissington aerodrome, to the parachute packing department. We were air scouts so supposed to be interested in that sort of thing. We had to wear berets instead of those conventional scout hats.
Monica Ridge (born 1943)
When you come up by what is now Lavender Bakehouse and you go up that drive, there’s a stable block, or what looks like it could have been, on the right hand side. That we used to use as a bit of a stable and as a garage, but we’ve been told that it’s the oldest chapel in Chalford because, if you look at the windows, they’re all that way. But I don’t know the full history of it, and it’s been made into a dwelling now.
I can remember when the Church used to do a fete and they used to start with a procession from the station, Chalford Station, and walk all the way down and then walk all the way up past the Church, and we’d be at the back of the vicarage (the parsonage) there’s a field.
Alan Mayo (born 1943)
We had a youth club in the Tabernacle, one in the main church, and Chalford Hill there was a hut in the pleasure ground and one in the France Lynch school rooms. It was good. I think I went to one choir practice.
We always had a valley fete. Shirley Bushell mentioned another fete at the Vicarage – that was the church fete.
Amanda & Max’s house (formerly Carpenters shop): Mr. & Mrs. Dennerhay, an Irish couple owned the shop, but that was all gone (by1970), they owned all that house and they owned the Chapel you know the Chapel up above. That was where Den and Les were living, and they were living in a polythene tent in the middle of the chapel, because all the roof had been removed. And they had a donkey which came in as well because there was loads of room. I’m not saying inside the polythene but inside the building. They were Irish, they really were Irish you know. Just like tinkers you’d think they had just arrived off the boat but they lived there.
‘The Old Mission Hall’ was still a Chapel in the early 1970s, and it was called ‘The Christian Brethren’, which was like ‘Plymouth Brethren’. If you look at the building from the road you can see it has got different developments. It was a small house and bits were added to the left, also a big extension was built on the second floor (which is actually at ground level at the back because the land rises). I did some renovation work there, and we found a huge 10 foot long bath for baptising people in, cut out of the rock at the rear of the second floor. There was a hot water tank for heating the water in it. The bath is still there but filled with rubble, but you can’t see it, it’s all under the new floor. The building was still functioning as a church up until the seventies.