Godfrey Jellyman (born 1923)
There’s a row of houses along there and I was born in the second one along this way. That’s in Brownshill, six houses along with the post office on the end. There’s a plaque up when they were built. I was born in that house. Father had a farm down over by Brownshill House and this property came up for sale so we bought the two dwellings at the sale and Mr. Aldridge next door bought one of them from father. There was a paddock where Polly’s is, Mr. Aldridge wanted the one with the paddock. Father was a farmer at nearby Brownshill House, he kept cattle, pigs, chickens. We then moved to Bussage School and came back home across the fields. There was no water laid on but I got nobbled to fill the big tank from the well with pump.
No milk in bottles. Government did bring in milk for school children and father got the contract for that and that went on very well. That was Bussage school because we used to deliver round Bussage. Supplied for quite a while and then went all modern they wanted it in bottles so we didn’t bother with that. Third of a pint was odd we had quarter of a pint and a gill, half and quarts. Father delivered milk with horse and cart and might have sold a few eggs. Chickens laid in the spring but we was short in the winter. Mother would pickle the eggs. She had a big dish and put the eggs in and poured liquid over to stop them going rotten so we had eggs in the winter. They were in shells uncooked. Mother could make cakes etc. We had a range and everything round the range. Mother was a very good cook and had to make do as everybody else.
In them days there was a private school in Bussage run by two ladies and we used to go along and get what I call swill, all odds and ends from the girls what they didn’t eat, once a week and had it for the pigs. If the cart was about that was easier. They didn’t know what to do with the swill in those days.
Mother did the washing on Mondays in a copper that had to be lit with firewood and coal quite early because it had to boil. Sometimes if the wind was in the wrong direction it didn’t want to boil. When it did eventually boil they had two baths with cold water and all that had to be rinsed out. If that wasn’t good enough they had to go and do a second one. Of course the collar had to be starched on the shirts. The water was pumped from out back, it was rainwater from the big tank from the two houses. Mother had too much work in the house to do any other work outside.
Anne Sutton (born 1927)
I was born at Vale House in Chalford, 90 years ago, I’m nearly 91, and I was one of 11 children, I was number 9. They got more spaced out after me. Very, very happy childhood, we had a nice big house so I wasn’t crammed up like some big families were. There was a family very near us and they were in a one bedroom house, they had a sort of partial partition. There was no kitchen and an outside well, they filled up a washing up bowl and dabbled about in it. Obviously no bath or anything. An outside loo and they were as many as we were in one room upstairs with a slight partition for the parents. I was very lucky we had a big house and a lovely big garden, so great activities there.
My mother would not tolerate squabbling, she said ‘in a big family you have got to learn to get on’, so that was understood and we didn’t.
One had to help in the house, it was just an accepted thing. My sister Pat and I always did the potatoes and I can remember dusting down the front stairs which had brass rods through that held the carpet in. I can remember cleaning the brasses and things, we had to go and get all of the rods out of the stairs. Yes, I think it was accepted that children helped. Housework was hard work then, you didn’t just shuffle round with a hoover and waft a feather duster. Places got very dusty because of coal fires you see.
Wash day was Monday and it took all of Monday. We had a wash house out at the back and the copper in the corner and sheets and everything were boiled in there and shirts, because they weren’t drip dry or anything. So all these whites had to be done in there and there was a procession of zinc baths. From the copper into the biggest one and down the procession. Then it was the mangle, then it went into perhaps a starch, certainly a blue bag was in the final rinse and then starch as necessary. We were lucky we had indoor passages, well I mean at least undercover, with all these lines strung across so it could be dried if it was wet and then a back yard if it was fine. Turning the mangle was quite an operation I can tell you.
We lived in Hillside Farm on the way to Avenis Green. It was a mixed farm, virtually everything. I helped on the farm when I could.
Lots of people used to keep their own chickens in the village. Pigs as well. In those days, the pigs were twice the size of what they are now when they went to market. I suppose in modern times people didn’t want fat. They were bred to be long and slim. Sometimes they slaughtered them at the farm. A butcher from Bisley would come and butcher it and we kept it. It was laid out in the dairy at the back of the house on a kind of platform and when we came home from school our job was to rub in the rock salt for half an hour, for several months I suppose. My Dad and his mother who lived there too used to go and slice it and put it in the pan and it fried itself in its own fat. Never put any fat with it.
It was a happy childhood. It seemed to be a lot more free. Especially on summer nights you could virtually go to Bisley and back and no-one bothered. The only thing we couldn’t do was play outside the garden on a Sunday.
Mother was at home but she wasn’t very well for a lot of the time. Women didn’t work then, they had children, bottled all the fruit, made jam, chutney. It was the single women who went to war work.
End of the summer we used to collect rosehips for the troops and blackberries, for jam, jelly or vinegar for when you had colds with hot water and hazelnuts and filbert nuts. Lots of people had orchards in them days. There were a lot of cider trees. They used to take all these apples to this place at Cainscross to make the cider and they’d bring back 60 gallon wooden barrels that were old whisky barrels. The men drank at home mostly not at the pubs, Doreen my sister got drunk on it once. These barrels were in the coalhouse with cups there.
We had cooking apples and eating apples in the orchards too and plum trees, pear trees. We had all sorts of fruit in the orchard, red, black, green gooseberries, black, red and white currants, damsons, loganberries, greengages, all types of apples.
The excess of fruit used to go to Mills’ Shop at the top of Marle Hill, for sale. I was sent back to school at dinner times carrying baskets and I used to give stuff to Miss Mallett at school who was engaged to Mr. Mills. My grandmother kept hens and we used to preserve the eggs in icinglass in crocks, in their shells. We used to preserve runner beans like that, layer of salt, layer of beans, layer of salt. Now you freeze them.
Rationing didn’t really affect us, probably did our parents. Most people in the village had big gardens and allotments so we were self-contained. We would grow all our own food. We had a meat ration but we didn’t go hungry because we had the rabbits and chickens.
George Gleed (born 1930)
Born in Brownshill in 1930.
We had to get water out of a well and save our rain water. It was hard times. We didn’t realise it so much because we weren’t used to anything else I suppose.
We had two bedrooms. My father and mother had one and I had to share with my two sisters, one was five years older and one nine years older. My father was in the Navy and used to be away for three or four years at a time so the family was spread out. I was too young to help out. I didn’t have a lot of friends to play with as too young.
Cynthia Gleed 9born 1933)
Born in Bisley in the house called Bear View which looks down at the pub. It was just a simple cottage. We had a pump in the kitchen from the well. I had to help Dad in the garden. He’d make us do jobs before we were allowed out. Other girls could go to Bisley dances but I couldn’t until I was 15.
We went to live at Lypiatt when we got married, for 7 years, then we moved to Chalford and we lived at Skiveralls. A lovely little cottage but very high ceilings and there was like a black range for heating but all the heat went up to the high ceiling. No sanitation. We had this awful bucket lavatory and no water.
Grace Banyard (born 1930)
I was born in 1930 and grew up with my 2 brothers and sister in 1 Field Cottages, France Lynch. Tom was my eldest brother, then Mildred, then Raymond and I was the youngest. Raymond suffered from rheumatic fever and was kept home a lot. We lived in one end of the house, 2 bedrooms upstairs and a kitchen and living room downstairs. The fireplace was in the living room with a hob on each side and an oven on one side; there was only a small primus in the kitchen to boil the kettle. We had no electricity or running water. We managed. It was only a small cottage. It had a kitchen but we didn’t have any cooking facilities in there, the cooking facilities were in the front room, a range with things on the side where you put your saucepans and a little oven on the side. Then we had gas put in. Before that it was oil lamps and candles to take to bed, which we had to put out as soon as we got undressed. We had a double bed and a single bed in the bedroom but in the summer we always slept out, until I got married.
For water we used to have to go up the road to the well, just before where Hayden lives. It’s still there because the dogs go and drink the water. We used to have to go and get a bucket every night for tea and coffee in the morning but otherwise we used water from the stream at the bottom of our garden – dad made a spout to make it easier. He grew watercress down there. We had a great big rainwater tank which we used for washing hair and having a wash. There was always a jug, basin and soap dish upstairs and we had to wash in cold water from the jug – we used to empty our hot water bottles into the basin in the morning.
I can remember we didn’t have toothpaste years ago we just rubbed our finger on the soot in the chimney and rubbed it on our teeth. We used to have a school dentist – I hated that. When they brought the polio and that out we all had to go there and my arm was very bad, reacted very badly because of my colouring. I had to have it done a second time. I went with my Auntie and cousin – my mother didn’t have the time.
It was hard but we always had a cooked meal at dinner time. We always used to drink the vegetable water because it was iron. I know when my sister brought her boyfriend to tea one day, she told me not to misbehave. We had boiled eggs for tea and my sister always said she didn’t like the yoke. So I sat there and her boyfriend couldn’t stop laughing at what I said. She was always so staid and old fashioned. My brother Raymond was the one who was always ill.
I was the baby and I was spoilt! Quite a happy childhood. I didn’t have many girls to play with, it was nearly all boys. There was a top road and a bottom road in France Lynch and the older girls went the top way and wouldn’t let us younger ones go the top way so we used to call them the Israelites. That was Dulcie Brimfield, Josh Rolls, Daphne Smith and another girl. As I got older I used to go and there used to be someone called Mrs Parker up the top and there was a shoe shed that was Angela Lilliat’s father’s and we used to love to go in his shed and watch him do that.
My mother believed in herbs – we used to go down to Blizzards to get the herbs. Dad went into hospital with cancer and he ended up at Salterley Grange and he wasn’t eating and he was on this machine so I asked if I can bring him something in. Mother always used to make beef tea. Then you could buy it in the chemist like bottles of Bovril and so I took this in one night with a spoon and he ate every bit! I used to take him some in every night. He got better. He was 70 something then and the nurse said she had never heard of that before.
Shirley Bushell (born 1943)
I was born in Cheltenham but always lived in Chalford, from 16th July 1943. My father came from Yorkshire but my mother grew up in Chalford. I have a half bother who is 9 years older than me. My earliest memories really of Chalford was the freedom we had as children. We used to roam the fields and woods. We could walk along the High Street. There was no cars. We were quite safe. School holidays were just spent outdoors; unless it was pouring with rain we were never in. My mother had four sisters and a brother who lived quite close by so when I was growing up I had no end of cousins to play with. 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!
No indoor bathrooms. Some people had a toilet inside and some outside. Lots of toilets by the river, the toilet would be over the river – until the sewers came though Chalford in early 60s. Then everyone went on to the mains sewers. I remember the roads being dug up. There was mains electricity by then. A lot of open fires. We used to go wooding. You’d see lots of people bringing back wood in winter. Coal merchants, Smarts, were just across in the yard. The Coop used to deliver coal too I think. Some people had chickens and we used to keep rabbits at one time.
We used to build dens and camps and all sorts of things up in the woods. I remember a carefree, happy childhood where we played. We had nothing else to do! We didn’t have a computer, television, phone. So you couldn’t sit in. You just went out and did things.
Gerald Gardiner (born 1933)
I had two brothers, one younger, Ronald, he went into journalism and he researched our family and that. He lives in Hucclecote, he’s 81. And one older, Fred, he’ll be 90 in September. He lives in Kings Stanley. We grew up in a house on the High Street. It was like an orange box. One bedroom and the boys’ bedroom. Most of it was under the road and they got demolished – three cottages, and they are now a passing place. Very near Sevilles Mill. They knocked them down in ’62, when I moved up here along by the pleasure ground. The High Street’s not the same now, too many cars parked. I think Mr. Mills, Colin Gubbins and Mr. Reg Clark – they were the only three cars down the valley then.
There was a butcher’s shop at the top of that hill in the valley opposite the Sunday School and we mostly had rabbits. Tony Dean’s dad was a poacher. He had a big coat and he had a couple of ferrets in the lining of his coat and a little dog. Tony and his cousin Godfrey were my friends. Tony lived just up the road from us on the other side. Not like now, then, you knocked on the door and waited – very seldom you were asked in. You never went upstairs in other people’s houses. They nattered outside.
My dad worked for the gas company, laying new services to the houses. I worked with him for a while. I think most of the village was mostly electric but when I moved into the house it was only gas. You had gas lighting, then I had electric put in. You had gas right in the middle of the room. As you went upstairs it used to be oil lamps which smelled.
I was 18 when we married and Maureeen was about two and a half years older than me. She never knew her Dad. Her Mum was a cook working for Sir Robert Perkins in the big house at Far Oakridge and lived in, so Maureen lived with her aunties and an uncle.
My birth certificate was a pauper’s one – just a male in the parish of Bisley it said. The army accepted it and all that lot but when I went to go abroad for a holiday they wouldn’t. So I had to get a proper one and they said it was a pauper’s one. I said we were poor didn’t I and I meant poor.
As it got better Dad and Mum got this builder to put up a kitchen in the outhouse. It was just like a passage way. There was three of them (cottages) and I bought the one in the middle which you couldn’t extend. It cost £250 – I borrowed some off my brother’s mother in law. I was born in one and lived in the other. My parents moved up to Chalford Hill by the pleasure ground. We lived with Maureen’s mother after National Service. Maureeen worked at Bensons on a machine. She did that until ’53 when she had her first child. I was 20. We had five kids. My eldest two are almost like brother and sister to me. Boy, girl, boy, girl, boy. 13 months between the first two then four years between the other ones as one of the boys said, you went every World Cup year! They are all pretty well local still. I mainly worked in asbestos for Fibrecrete and they got taken over, and after all them years of washing my clothes Maureen got the disease that killed her look. She died 11 years ago. I worked from ’55 to ’67 with asbestos.
Margaret Mills (born 1934)
Born in a cottage in the High Street – opposite Tankard Spring – and I had one sister, three years older than me. Life was very simple there, you could go out and play in the road, no traffic, all very free and easy. There were some gangs of boys like Tony and Gerald and those, we grew up with. It was a self-contained village. Local shops where you could buy almost anything and most people had gardens and if you had too much of one thing you passed it on to each other. All very friendly.
We didn’t have a bathroom, bath in front of the fire – long tin bath. They called it a bungalow bath – a long oval bath. I suppose we heated the water with kettles. We had a coal fire with ovens and things. Eventually we had running water, my father modernised the cottage over the years and put in a bathroom and a modern kitchen. Before that we used Tankard Spring for water. Filled the bucket up – the brook was nice and clean then and you could almost drink it. We didn’t. We had an outside loo tucked round the side. We had two bedrooms. My sister and I shared one. It was a semi-detached house. During the war you had to grow your own vegetables, potatoes and green veg. And we used to swap with one another.
Graham Hobbs (born 1953 & Yvonne Hobbs (born 1954)
I (Graham) came to Eastcombe in 1975 from London. Yvonne’s parents had a cottage in Eastcombe they were going to retire to but they weren’t using it yet so when we got married we lived there and I could go to college in Cheltenham and Yvonne worked in Stroud Library. We moved to Brownshill in 1987.
When we were in the area, Manor Estate hadn’t been built. We used to picnic in the fields that now the estate covers. The Spine Road, Ashley View and Velhurst Drive were built but then the developer went bust which was a help to us at Brownshill as we needed to build an extension and we saw the old developer’s building hut had been abandoned, wrote to Stroud Council and they gave it to us.
Later we moved to Chalford Hill. We had the water cut off in 2007 when we had the floods and we all had to go down to the village springs and collect what we could. We were cut off for 2 weeks but then after that we had to boil the water for another week or two. Our daughter and son in law and grandchildren were living with us at the time because they were flooded out in Gloucester. We used to have our own spring in Chalford but then they couldn’t supply Manor Farm as well so they bought it from Tewkesbury and those connected to the spring still had water in the floods. Most unfair!
There are more young people in Bussage where the houses are more affordable, whereas in the old villages they aren’t. People like us have stayed in our houses when the children have moved away. When we lived in Brownshill, there were quite a lot of families.
Beryl Freebury (born 1941)
My parents married in 1939 in Bisley Church and lived in Eastcombe all their married life. I had one sister. My grandparents also lived in Eastcombe. My mother’s father was a gardener at Lypiatt Park when it was owned by Judge Woodcock. My father was in the Second World War so I didn’t see much of him for the first five years. I remember he made me a doll’s pram all from wood, a wheel along horse which I could sit on, and a shop during the time he was in the war, either as a birthday or Christmas present. I played with these toys a lot as it was the only present I got except for an orange and a chocolate in one of my Mum’s stockings at Christmas. But I had a very nice auntie who bought me a china doll and made lots of clothes for it.
Mum found it very lonely when Dad was away in the war. But she was supported by her parents and brothers and sister. I remember that Auntie Violet spent Saturdays with us as she worked during the week. My sister was born in 1946 and my Auntie came to take me to my grandparents when my sister was born at home. I was nearly five years old.
Luckily my auntie was a needlewoman and made all of my sister’s and my dresses. Mum knitted our cardigans, only buying socks and shoes, coats and underwear. When I was young I always wore a liberty bodice on top of my vest to keep me warm. Hats and gloves were always knitted.
We always wore our hair parted in the middle and tied with two bows, the colour depending on what we were wearing. My parents were poor compared with some families but we were always clean and tidy.
We always ate well as the family had a big vegetable garden and fruit bushes. We had gooseberries, red and black currants and we collected blackberries from the hedgerows and lovely rhubarb, also apples and plum trees. My Grampy was very good art catching wild rabbits and most Sundays our meat was rabbit which my Grandma had skinned and prepared ready for cooking.
I had a very happy childhood. I missed my father but life was good especially for my mother when he came home after the end of the war. I was too young to remember the war though we had rationing and I remember playing with the shop. My mother used to collect little oxo boxes and custard tins and my sister and myself would play shops with these and we were given the ration books and we used to use the stamps to pay for the goods which is a shame as we didn’t have the ration books for a keepsake. I remember the shop was blue with black handles. Three foot by two – it had two shelves at the top and places where you could store things and four little drawers. All made by my farther and the pram he made was all upholstered because later in life he was an upholsterer. My china doll always had plenty of knitted clothes. I lived down past the Lamb Inn in what we called The Street.
We had an outdoor toilet – you had to walk right round the house to get there. You had a bath round the fire on a Sunday night. There’s a spring by the old cottage where we lived on the Street and we used to have hair washed in that water – heated first! There was no running water. When they built the reservoir on the Bisley road they put water pipes right across the fields into Eastcombe and then round the village. Before that water came from wells and springs. My granny had a well and you would turn the handle and the bucket was on a rope.
When I was 11/12 I used to go and play cards with Grampy on a Friday night and it was an oil lamp on the table. They had a black lead grate which they had to clean a lot and a tub in a little lean to that you stoked. We played cards, I’d have a drop of cider and put some cheese on a tin plate in the oven of the grate and we’d have that with a bit of bread. It was a treat! It was a happy time and everyone got on so well.
I stayed in Eastcombe until I went to school in Stroud. We never went out anywhere else. We never had a car so our life revolved round the village. It was a big thing for me to get on a bus and go to school in Stroud. It was a normal service bus. It left Eastcombe at 5 to 8 and got home at 10 to 5. I remember a couple of years when we had snow and when I was the eldest we used to have to walk down to the garage at Toadsmoor bacause there was a turning the bus could turn in. One winter we walked all the way down to the main road and I had to go to the Headmistress to ask to leave an hour early to get home in the snow. They wouldn’t believe we had all this snow up here.
Daphne Neville (born 1937)
We bought Baker’s Mill at the end of 1964, my youngest daughter was born that September. I think my daughter was eight months old when we moved in properly as the building was previously uninhabited, that must have been the spring of 1965.
My husband and I adore it here and he was always keen on boats. We only have an old punt now but the children learnt to sail on the lake and then he built a little boat as well. To be able to live in this beautiful valley and I’m very lucky because there are always people who want to camp in the field or whatever. The only problem with this house is that we don’t get the sun for three months over the winter, when you go up to Oakridge and the sun is shining you wonder why we are living in the bottom of a valley. The sun usually comes back on St. Valentine’s Day. You do need quite a lot of heating down here in the winter.
Socially, because the children did get their ponies, quite a lot of the socialising was to do with the hunt. We would go to the occasional Hunt Ball and also because our neighbour, Brigadier Fabian, being the secretary of the local hunt, we used to go to the polo in Cirencester Park and that sort of thing.
Bob Messenger (born 1950)
I was born in Tetbury in 1950 and have been in Chalford 64 years. My Dad worked on the buses in Stroud. Father had shifts on the buses but don’t know what they were. Our Dad had a pushbike. Used to take it down by Lionel Padin’s, leave it there and catch the bus then bring it back nights. My Mum was at home with the seven kids. I’m the second oldest.
I started school in Chalford Hill School. It was good, good teachers. Used to walk down there and back home for dinner. You could get dinners there. They got canteen there. Discipline was strict. First of all went to the Poly at Brimscombe then 1971, I think it was, I went to Thomas Keble, Manor School.
I lived in this house – the same house all the time. We used to have a pantry here, an old fashioned toilet, the old flush box, no bath. But it’s all changed now. We used to sleep in the attic, us boys, and the girls had the small bedroom. Mum and Dad had the big bedroom. It was a squash. We had to look after the younger children. Water was plumbed in. I think they used to have a well years ago, up on that path. All filled in now.
My mother didn’t work. She stayed at home looking after us. She used to go out nights down the Legion, Monday and a Friday, with my sister next door. Used the bus or rail car or walk – no car.
In the very cold winters, all the pipes used to freeze up, used to put lagging round the pipes and used to have the old bath in front of the fire. The roads was horrible. Couldn’t get no buses up here at all. Usual, months of snow, everything stopped. All the shops used to run out of food an all.
Audrey Bishop (born 1932)
This had been my mother’s house, she was born here – and one or two of her brothers and sisters. There were seven of them I think.
My mum was widowed and stayed here, but my grandfather was here, look. He lived here, he was her father. So that made it a little bit easier – there was somebody to help out. She would have been alone with us otherwise. But he was here, keep his eye on us! He was a wonderful grandfather. I loved him dearly – his kindness, broad Gloucestershire – theeing and thouing, you know. We knew what he meant, if a lot of people didn’t! But he was a wonderfully kind man. I suppose he replaced our father really. He kept us in order when we were naughty – brothers and sisters squabbling. I’m the older one of two – about 14 or 15 months between me and Maurice. My father died when I was two and Maurice was younger, but we had a good childhood, with this wonderful grandfather behind us.
My brother was only a little boy but my grandfather was very good. He’d have our Maurice down the shed ‘Sort out they nails, Mar’. Of do this, that or the other, you know. So he saw our Maurice interested in the shed, just down the bottom of the garden by the wall. He had all his tools. He could do anything but it was rough, no finesse, but if he knocked it together it didn’t fall to pieces. And he made me a doll too, which I’ve got in the other room. Quite a tall doll. Actually the head belongs to – I can remember the head as a child. On the other side of here was the old coal house, you see, and you bent in the door and it was always on a shelf. I can remember seeing this head now, covered in coal dust. I never queried it at all. And I never missed it when it disappeared. So Gramp must have taken it down, look – he must have cleaned it off a bit and took it to my uncle in Gloucester who was an artist, got it all painted up. Bless ‘er. I was ten, I think – that makes her 83 now, I think.
We had enough ground out here for my grandfather to grow vegetables. It’s all stoned over now because I can’t do it, but he did it.
We were allowed out to play on the path and up on the pleasure ground, when I go a bit older, and certainly up and down the road because until the traffic really got going there wasn’t any traffic about.
Nancy Gardiner (born 1924)
My parents weren’t very keen on town life and they came to Brimscombe. I was away in a home at the time because my mother’s nerves were so bad. For a year I was away in this home. It was terrible. I thought I was just dumped. I wasn’t old enough to understand. It was Compton Bishop in Somerset. Mother came down occasionally and took me out for the day to Weston. I was only there about 11 months. I was about five and a half. . In that time they moved to Brimscombe. Then I had tonsils and adenoid problems so I had to go to Bristol Children’s Hospital. I thought I was dumped again!
I married Stan at the mission chapel at Brimscombe corner in 1947. We borrowed some money and bought Maplehurst, quite a big house, opposite the polytechnic with the Bourne estate on one side. As a child we used to play in the fields opposite Maplehurst and look across and imagine that we lived in it. We felt like king and queen in that house. It really was a well-built house with cement all down the side so you never cracked your corners! It had lovely big rooms, nice views because Bensons wasn’t there then so you looked over the canal and the other side of the hill. The children loved it. The only thing was it was very much on the hillside and the garden was a swine to do because it was so sloping. I made a sort of flat lawn. I cut down the trees. The garden was so overgrown we had to chop a way to the house to get the furniture up there. We found after we’d chopped the garden down that there was a huge low sort of greenhouse full of tins of fruit, beans, potatoes, everything. She (Reverend’s wife) must have bought in a lot of stuff during the war, tins and stuff. She must have saved them for the war and didn’t use them all and when they moved they just tucked them all in the greenhouse! There were rats everywhere. We couldn’t eat it because it had all gone rusty.
Maplehurst was such a lovely house. The only fault was, it was spring water from somewhere into a well. When we bought it we were told it is quite easy to pump up the water, just twice a day. But we finished up with four children and we were pumping all day! So Stan and a friend put in a pump so it worked electronically. We had rather a funny toilet. It was a big wooden seat, goodness knows where it all went because we weren’t on the sewers! It went down the lissom as they all did. I reckon it went into the canal!
Stan’s father had bought Woodlands when he was going to get married. When Stan’s father died his mother tried to carry it on. Stan didn’t want to take it on at the time. I had to come to live in Woodlands in 1960 to look after Stan’s mum. She kept having strokes. The holding wasn’t really anything by then. We had the house divided into two I insisted on my own front door! She had the back bit. She looked after herself more or less. When she died around 1965 we had it put back into one.
When my mother died, Dad sold the bungalow and had nowhere to go and asked to have a live-in van in the garden. He gradually went blind so I had to tie a rope from his van to the house. He used the pig sties as his shed.
Stan and I didn’t ever farm the fields at Woodlands. We had ponies but otherwise we let the fields out to some farmer who had cows there. We had poultry in the cow shed and sold eggs. The kids had guinea pigs and rabbits. Stan wasn’t interested in the farm. All the children went to Chalford Hill School.
We had to have mains water put on at Woodlands. Before that we had to pump the water a certain way, it wasn’t very good. It was from a well right by the back door. There were no sewers or anything. We had a sceptic tank put in. We had a loan from the Council to improve the cottage. As long as you stayed more than seven years you didn’t have to pay it back – about £7000, so we paid the builder to put in the septic tank. Before that you had to go down the garden. It (the toilet) was propping up a plum tree! We had a lot of trouble with the septic tank. It was all right for the first few years but being on a clay bed it silted all up and started overflowing. They only emptied it once a year unless you paid for it. When we went on the mains, Stan filled the septic tank up with cans of paints, anything. He was afraid it would give way (which it did with the next owners!)
I used to love that orchard with the water coming out of the spring. They used to come round selling elvers, a jug full for sixpence. I bought some. They are still alive when you buy them so I put half a dozen down in the spring and forgot all about them. We were down there messing around and I found this long worm. I threw it away then realised it was one of the elvers about five years older! If I’d thought I’d have kept it longer. There was water cress there but Stan wouldn’t eat it unless it was tested. Everybody in France Lynch had springs.
May Smith (born 1924)
I was born at the Bunch of Nuts in Chalford Hill on 20th June 1924. I had one brother, Denis, who died. My parents were Walter and Edith Davis. My father couldn’t do very much because he had his arm shot off during the First World War. Before that he was working in the stick mill. When he came home he done a paper round and we moved from the Bunch of Nuts. We moved along to the Wheatsheaf along the village when I was about 9 or 10. It was up a little lane. It’s pulled down now – they’ve built houses.
I had lovely parents. We always had food on the table. My Dad would grow all the vegetables. Mum was a good cook, lovely puddings. I had grandparents at Bussage and Chalford Hill. I used to see the ones in Chalford Hill quite a bit, the name of Kingdom.
I remember the cottage at the Bunch of Nuts. My brother and I used to walk around to see my grandparents in Chalford Hill. My brother was very protective of me, pushed me against the wall when a car come.
We had to move from the Wheatsheaf because they were going to close some of the pubs around Chalford Hill because they said there was too many. We were on the list to move to the Fleece Inn where we went when I was around 13. Mum and Dad built the trade up and the brewery wanted the licence back again so Mum and Dad bought it off the brewery and called it Fleece House. I loved it there but didn’t like going up to the attic!
My Mum used to take in lodgers there, four at a time sometimes. Quite a few worked up on the aerodrome. Dad used to keep the beer barrels in the long cellar and Mum used to cook round there and there was a pantry by the side. The men used to come in at night and have their pints of beer in the long room. I got married from there when I was 23 and then moved to Eastcombe and lived with my mother in law for about 18 months then we moved up to a cottage in Fidges Lane. I had my second baby over there, Michael at the Fleece. Pat was born at Tetbury.
It was lovely growing up in the village. There’s quite a lot of children. Much better than what it was today. We were happier, we could go out anywhere. We could go to the woods and not be afraid. We didn’t even lock our doors at night. It was a lovely life, it really was. Quite, quite different today.
Mum was very good at cooking and looking after us. She died when she was 79. Dad was still over there in the Windermere bungalow what my husband built. When Dad sold the Fleece House he bought this big field up there for my husband to build on. Dad didn’t die till he was 97. His grandson, my brother’s adopted boy, used to stay there and I used to go over twice a day.