Mrs Ireland was born in 1894, and was interviewed on 25 November 1976. when she lived at 12 Chalks Road, Witham.
For more information about her, see the the notes in the people category headed Ireland, Mrs Dorothy (Dolly), nee Goss
The original recording of this interview is held at the Essex Sound and Video Archive. To listen to the recording, please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 033301 32500.
[???] shows words that are not clear enough to interpret and so have had to be omitted.
[?] after a word shows that its interpretation is not certain.
Later explanatory additions by JG or the transcriber are in square brackets [e.g. explaining locations etc.]
Note that these early tapes, being the first interviews I ever did, are examples of how not to do it – all my interruptions and mutterings and unclear questions! JG
Q: …. two and a half. You can’t remember going to school?
Mrs I: Well, you remem-, repeat it to your own children, don’t you? And when I could see all scribbling all on the walls, and I said ‘Well, what else can they expect when the children go to bed in the nursery[?]’, I said ‘they never have paper or pencil’. And that surprised me, you see, it is speaking to the others, I think.
Q: You compare it with what you …. [Mrs I: Yes, you do, you see.] Do you have grandchildren?
Mrs I: Yes, just three grandsons. I haven’t a little granddaughter, oh I should love it. Not so much now, but I did at first, because I thought, ‘Oh, I would love a little basket, go and pick the daisies, and see the daisy chain. That’s what, I love children. But boys are very good, aren’t they, the boys? The good thing, they’re right far out in the country, you see, and they’re more interested you see, they’ve got the birds all around, ‘cos their dad is a dentist in Colchester, and he lives right out for convenience because otherwise, a little thing went wrong with the tooth, the phone’d go, so they are right out at Shelley[?].
Q: So when you were little, could you play with the boys as well as the girls, or did the girls play together mostly?
Mrs I: Oh well, you went for the boys, didn’t you?
Q: Did you, even when you were quite little?
Mrs I: Boys, you do, don’t you. I think boys are great, but I should love a little grand daughter. I was waiting for Clive, but nothing happened, he’s 43. I guess he’s, you know, happy, he likes his bachelor’s life I think.
Q: You were telling me the things that he told you you should have told me, that you’d forgotten.
Mrs I: Oh yes. Well, with a bad chest, because when the children, they never had a cough, I was so pleased, but my grandchildren were terrible, and that’s how they heard the tale, the little boys. Renee used to say ‘Mum, what can I do?’ And I said ‘Well, there’s not such a thing as a tallow candle’. We used to have a halfpenny tallow candle at Simpson’s in the High Street, and brown paper, and you put the tallow on the plaster, you see, for your chest. And always mustard in the water if you had a cold.
Q: Because, was there a candle factory, was it Kings?
Mrs I: Smith, yes [actually baskets probably], and the brush factory in Newland Street [behind 83 Newland Street].
Q: Well, that’s right, yes, that was there when you were little?
Mrs I: Yes, that was why we call that the brush shop yard. And you went right through.
Q: Were they still making brushes, then, were they?
Mrs I: Yes, for a time, and then that moved to Braintree.
Q: Did it, I wondered what happened to that.
Mrs I: They went to Braintree.
Q: ‘Cos that would be quite a big concern, wasn’t it?
Mrs I: Oh, it was. And then there was a corsetier, there was a factory just for corsets.
Q: Was there, where was that?
Mrs I: Somewhere in the High Street, would it be by the doctors’ [doctors’ is 129 Newland Street]?
Q: Oh, I see, I didn’t know that. ‘Cos I’m sure I remember somebody telling me about, when you said about the candles that reminded me, that somebody else had told me they were sent to get candles at the factory, and that must have been something to do with, about this throat ….?
Mrs I: Yes, yes tallow, not the ordinary candles.
Q: Now let me think, oh I know what I was going to ask, was your grandma a Goss, or was she ….?
Mrs I: A Goss, a Goss, yes [actually Rushen, see notes beginning of tape 1]. That’s when my life ended, when …. I was upset over that.
Q: What was that, when, when she died?
Mrs I: Yes. ‘Cos I was left, you see, and I should, that was their wish that I should go to Australia, yes, with their auntie. But I didn’t go.
Q: How old were you when she died?
Mrs I: Seventeen, no just over the sixteen [this when Mrs Rushen died, probably]. It’s tomorrow really, the day. That was my, that ended my life, really. It did. Well I was sheltered, you know, I was fussed, made a fuss of.
Q: Was she a good person, an easy person to talk to?
Mrs I: Yes, yes. You see, that’s when you hear the tales, don’t you, the olden times, you hear them chat, don’t you. And I loved elderly people, ‘cos I’ve always lived with elderly people.
Q: Did she come from Witham too?
Mrs I: Yes. Rivenhall, I think, yes, and Notley, we’ve always been to the villages.
Q: So how did it come about that she did this nursing?
Mrs I: I don’t know, why. Through the doctors, through the doctors, you see.
Q: I suppose she learnt it on the job, did she?
Mrs I: Yes, yes. The old-fashioned, yes, you know, not the hospital nursing, yes. Oh that makes a difference.
Q: ‘Cos her house, was it those big houses behind the shops [I was thinking of 82 Newland Street and 84 Newland Street but she may have been thinking of 41 Chipping Hill].
Mrs I: Yes there’s two, that’s right.
Q: It was quite a big place?
Mrs I: Yes, but you see, she’d have the boys in, and the office you see, you’d have the postmen, you see, it was always ….
Q: I see, they used the house as part of the Post Office?
Mrs I: Yes, and I know we used to get on the wall and throw apples to the boys.
Q: How did the postmen used to work in those days, how did they get the post to Witham?
Mrs I: Oh, the van, the mail van, only not so smart as today, just the ordinary van, Braintree. Oh yes.
Q: ‘Cos in the house there, so you didn’t have all the rooms there for your living in.
Mrs I: No.
Q: How many rooms did you have?
Mrs I: Couldn’t tell you.
Q: Did you have to help her a fair bit in the house?
Mrs I: Oh yes, yes, I always did. Yes.
Q: I’d better have a look at this [???] questions that I’ve got [???] You said she didn’t have anyone else in the house at all, it was just you and her?
Mrs I: No, yes.
Q: So it must have been quite hard work for her if she was going out to work as well?
Mrs I: Oh yes, yes, but it was only at times, you see, yes.
Q: For things like washing then, how did you get the hot water?
Mrs I: Oh yes. We had open fireplaces, didn’t we, and the oven by the side. I often think that’s nice. Because you’d put a baked potato in, or you could put a pudding in, couldn’t you, or something, when you’d got your oven by the side. Oh I think it was nicer. And then we had the big ovens, where you could take a Yorkshire pudding or anything in the bakers. You could take your dinners and have them cooked.
Q: Could you really? Whereabouts was that?
Mrs I: Oh, that was when we came into the bakehouse [48 Church Street?]
Q: Where was that?
Mrs I: In Chipping Hill.
Q: That was the one you were telling me about in Church Street?
Mrs I: Yes, when I came.
Q: I see, so you could put, they’d cook them for you, would they?
Mrs I: On a Sunday, yes. Only on a Sunday, that’s all.
Q: Only on Sundays? So the rest of the time they baked their own things, did they?
Mrs I: Oh yes. I often say that to the children. Oh how nice, you could put a bread in, and your cheese[?] and put a baked potato. And the chestnuts, you could pop along, it was so different, wasn’t it, you could do different things.
Q: Slow cooking?
Mrs I: Oh, an hour, for Yorkshire pudding, I always remember, when the soldiers came in the 1914, we always had the Yorkshire pudding, with the gravy, first, not with the vegetables. And they laughed, they used to say, yes, when it’s teatime, I suppose they will give us the bread, and the butter after [laugh].
Q: ‘Cos I’m sure they do that in some parts.
Mrs I: And I think they do now.
Q: In Yorkshire?
Mrs I: Yes, I think they have their pudding and the gravy. I expect then they don’t need an after.
Q: So for hot water ….?
Mrs I: Just the kettles, yes, and big boilers.
Q: For washing clothes?
Q: Yes. I suppose they had those quite recently really, didn’t they?
Mrs I: Yes, but they were big iron, yes big iron.
Q: You put them on top of the cooker?
Mrs I: Yes, on the top of the stove, you’d have an iron made at the blacksmith, you see, for that purpose.
Q: Because there’d be more, more blacksmiths?
Mrs I: Yes, of course, ‘cos there was one in the High Street.
Q: Who had that one?
Mrs I: Brockes [probably 130 Newland Street]. With the dressmakers next door. Yes, they were Brockes, Marjorie[?].
Q: So you had things made specially?
Mrs I: Yes, yes. I did go to Miss Brenes opposite a little while for dressmaking but I didn’t like it, I couldn’t sit still, I wanted sport, or to get out and about.
Q: What, for work, you mean?
Mrs I: Yes. I couldn’t do dressmaking. I don’t like it now, I’m not interested.
Q: Did you do it at school at all?
Mrs I: No, we didn’t. Oh, the sewing was interesting, I often tell the girls, because I’ve got some of their samples that they did for college, and they didn’t do the same. They never had a patch. They were never taught to do a patch. And they were never taught whipping. Course you didn’t have embroidery in those days, did you. And all the different little specimens I used to tell them. They never did it.
Q: Is that what you did at school, bits of practice?
Mrs I: Yes, yes, when you got older. And the only recreation …. We did have dancing classes. And the maypole at the first of May, we always had the maypole.
Q: Where was that?
Mrs I: In the ground, you see, ‘cos the teachers, I told you, lived opposite, by the school, we used to go on their lawn, have the maypole. And then we had St. George’s day, we used to have the rose, and then a play, to represent all the colonies.
Q: When did Empire day come in, did they have that when you were at school?
Mrs I: That is it, yes, that is it, Empire, we said St. George’s day. Yes, we used to have the red and white roses.
Q: That was in the morning, was it, or did it go on all day?
Mrs I: Oh no, just a special day. And May day, we had to have white dresses, and be round the maypole.
Q: What sort of clothes did you wear the rest of the time?
Mrs I: No uniform.
Q: Different clothes from now?
Mrs I: Yes. I had nice clothes. I ought not to say that, but I did.
Q: Did somebody make them for you?
Mrs I: Yes, oh yes, yes. Well, you couldn’t buy anything. You know, Witham, honestly, there’s no nice shops in Witham that used to be. I mean we never went out of Witham to buy anything. There was Spurge’s [42 Newland Street], and there was the London House [74 Newland Street and 76 Newland Street], and Pilcher’s[?]. Oh, there’s nothing now. They’ve brought the people back, but there’s no shops, you have to go to Chelmsford.
Q: So if you wanted a new dress or something, when you were a child, what did they used to do, take you to a shop?
Mrs I: Yes, get the material, and you always had them made. Oh, several dressmakers.
Q: And then the dressmaker would make it for you?
Mrs. I Yes. And pinafores, we always had. You don’t see pinafores today, do you. And look at the underclothes. Gracious, we used to have a little, we used to call it the stays, the white with crosses across. And your knickers, didn’t you, with the beautiful lace. And look at the little petticoats. And the little bonnets, lace bonnets. None now, is there.
Q: A lot of ironing to do, I should think?
Mrs I: Oh, the ironing.
Q: How did they do that?
Mrs I: I still have a table. I can’t use an ironing board.
Q: It is bigger, isn’t it?
Mrs I: I like a table best.
Q: What sort of irons did you use?
Mrs I: Oh yes, those old irons. Oh, the children say ‘Mum, give us the iron’, if they need it to press anything down. Even now the boy will, use the flat iron. Then you had a rake by the fire, you know the blacksmith would make you a little rake, and you’d pop your little iron at the face of the fire. And then you used to have to wet your finger to see if they were hot.
Q: How long did it last before you had to heat it up again?
Mrs I: Oh, well you’d have three on. And then when you’d finished using it, you’d pop it back, so you’d always …. And then there was a place where, the mangle, oh it was a strange, huge thing, and it used to draw out and you could put the linen in there and it would close in. Yes, I remember that. Yes, that was at the Crotchet [next to 130 Newland Street] or one of those public houses. ‘Cos look at the public houses there were in Witham.
Q: Were there a lot?
Mrs I: Next to one another. And then in Bridge Street, there was a place that we called the Union, but it wasn’t. There used to be tramps, we called them tramps, men travelling, they used to sing, and there was a place there for them to sleep at night.
Q: What was that called, do you know?
Mrs I: Yes. The Crotchet, not the Crotchet, no Bridge Street, Carpenter’s Arms [probably 141 Newland Street].
Q: Can you remember the names of any of the other pubs that aren’t there now?
Mrs I: No, because, now have they got ….? That big one at the top. One has closed on the corner, the Globe [132 Newland Street], ‘cos Marshall Wash was there, he was a cripple. But the Crotchet is still there.
Q: Was the, that was in Maldon Road, the Bell was it?
Mrs I: Oh yes, and the Peculiar chapel [later the Mason’s hall].
Q: That was there then was it, that was Maldon Road too, was it?
Mrs I: Yes, that was Maldon Road, just the back of the school.
Q: Were there other chapels and things?
Mrs I: Yes, and the Baptist chapel, was in Maldon Road [later Chapel House, south of no. 2 Maldon Road]. You see, it’s surprising. We say the old times, but there were more buildings, and more to occupy your time.
Q: When you said about the, the Globe was right on the corner, was it [132 Newland Street]?
Mrs I: Yes.
Q: Somebody told me about the cage, was that there when you were there?
Mrs I: Pardon?
Q: The cage? Perhaps not. Where they … the lock-up was near the Globe somewhere. Where, you know, if they caught somebody drunk, they’d put him there.
Mrs I: Oh, not the police station?
Q: Not the police station. Perhaps that was before your time.
Mrs I: No. I should think it was what I said, the Carpenters Arms, where the tramps, we used to call them. We’d say ‘Here comes a tramp’, we used to run.
Q: Did you? You were frightened of them, were you?
Mrs I: Yes. And then, you know, they’d come round and sing the hymns and have a little tin round their neck, and put the money in. And the hymns. Strange, wasn’t it? I suppose that’s the only thing they knew, ‘cos religion was very, the chief thing in those days, wasn’t it?
Q: I remember you saying you went to Church a lot.
Mrs I: Four times! Well after we were confirmed we, oh we used to burst[?] it, we used to go up six o’clock in the morning Easter Sunday.
Q: Were there were different sorts of people went to different churches? What sort of people went to the chapel?
Mrs I: Oh. That Congregational, I can’t understand it. There was a fire there last week and they called it the Reformed church [United Reformed Church, Newland Street].
Q: They’ve altered the name, yes.
Mrs I: We said Congregational.
Q: I think that was quite recent, they’ve altered the name.
Mrs I: Because Miss Chalk, the Chalks always attended there, I remember. Yes.
Q: ‘Cos, you said Mrs Chalk, you were in hospital with?
Mrs I: Yes, with Jimmy’s mother.
Q: Where did they live then, at that time, Mr and Mrs Chalk?
Mrs I: In Church Street.
Q: In Church Street, did they? Is the house there now?
Mrs I: Yes, those houses are there now. Yes. They pulled the end four down, and they were in those four. Next to the paper shop. Those four were pulled down [paper shop was in a newish place at 41a Church Street at the time of the interview].
Q: Quite near the Cromwell cottages that you were telling me about [25-31 Church Street]?
Mrs I: Yes, yes.
Q: You told me about the clothes. And shoes. I suppose you could get shoes in Witham as well?
Mrs I: Oh, they smile about the shoes, they used to have big hobnails in their boots.
Q: Did they? Really?
Mrs I: And I had a pair, I had them put in ‘cos I thought it was great. And I went to Notley to my granddad, and he cleaned my shoes, and he wrote a terrible letter, to say I couldn’t wear boots like that. We had, the boots used to be made for you, in Chipping Hill, Abbotts. We used to have the boots, and they were always boots, never a shoe. We thought it was wonderful when you had a shoe, and the socks. We always had the stockings.
Q: You say your granddad at Notley, was that your mother’s ….?
Mrs I: Yes, yes, great, that was great[?] parents. And he was annoyed.
Q: What was his name?
Mrs I: Goss, Samuel Goss.
Q: So he was a Goss.
Mrs I: Oh yes, I always remember that we used to go to the little mission, and he used to take it, and I thought ‘Whatever for?’ Well, he said, ‘They haven’t a church’. And so he opened this little hall.
Q: What, at Notley?
Mrs I: Yes. I often think when I go and when I pass by. ‘Cos the picture’s at the back, to say he opened it, Samuel Goss. Well it was when I used to like to tell my children, you see. And I asked if I could go in so they could see the founder of the little chapel.
Q: I suppose, going back to the food, I suppose, did you grandma make your own bread and everything as well?
Mrs I: Oh no, but they did. My children, the girls do now. Yes, they’re making the bread.
Q: But you got that from the baker?
Mrs I: Yes, the yeast, the flour. We used to have to go for the yeast. There’s no suet today. For your puddings.
Q: What sort of things did you have for breakfast, what that the same as it is now?
Mrs I: Porridge. Quaker oats [laugh]. Used to love the Quaker oat packet. It was a nuisance, ‘cos it’s the cooking, isn’t it.
Q: Of course you had to leave that on all night?
Mrs I: Definitely, yes, and then it was ready for the morning. I didn’t like it.
Q: I suppose you had to have it, did you? Did you have to eat what you were given, did you? Was your grandma quite strict?
Mrs I: Oh yes. Very. Yes, very. The wind wasn’t allowed to blow on me.
Mrs I: Oh I had a sheltered life.
Q: She kept you in order, did she? What sort of things did she do if you were naughty?
Mrs I: Well, I was never smacked. I never smacked my children. Do you smack?
Q: No, not really, no.
Mrs I: Oh, the people when I see them and I’m passing by the school, and they, oh they smack them. You don’t smack them, do you.
Q: What did your grandma do when she was ….?
Mrs I: I only remember, once, and I don’t think I was smacked, I was put upstairs. You know the pea-picking, the pea fields. Well, I was interested, and someone asked me to go, and I came, oh, right up to Chipping Hill, past, over there, and of course they couldn’t find me, wondered where I was. Well, you stay in the pea-field, you’re interested, aren’t you. Used to make the huts, with the pea-rice. I remember that. But I was never smacked, and I’ve never smacked my children. I think that if you do that, well, I think it makes them sulky, to put people, you know, but that’s all you do.
Q: So you had to eat all up your food, did you?
Mrs I: Yes.
Q: Keep quiet, did you? Did you play much, you told me about the games you played out of doors. What sort of things did you play indoors, say, in the winter. Did you have toys?
Mrs I: Yes, yes, dolls, and then you would make your dolls, knitting, I always remember, the children [laugh], ‘Put your needle through there, and then you push it down there, and you push that one’. And you don’t notice those movements, do you, when you’re doing it quickly. But I remember as a child, ‘Put it through, put it that way, push it down’. Oh, knitting.
Q: You learnt that at home, did you?
Mrs I: Yes. And we used to do knitting. And knitting lace, we used to knit the lace. I didn’t like crochet much.
Q: No. But you did that when you were quite small, did you?
Mrs I: Oh yes, we used to, I always remember that.
Q: ‘Cos I suppose in the winter, if it was cold, if it was dark at four or something, you couldn’t go out to play?
Mrs I: Oh, went to bed.
Q: You went to bed did you? [Mrs I: Went early] What time did you go?
Mrs I: Oh, seven, I should imagine.
Q: You’d have tea when you came home from school or something, would you? What sort of a tea would you, or dinner or something?
Mrs I: Oh, not at,. you wouldn’t have it cooked. Jam. You never have jam, do you? Jam used to be chiefly the thing.
Q: What, for tea-time?
Mrs I: Yes, you don’t see jam, do you?
Q: Did she, did you make your own jam at home, or anything like that?
Mrs I: Oh yes, and all pickles, oh yes, and chutney, oh you did everything, helpful.
Q: You helped did you?
Mrs I: Yes.
Q: Did you have special jobs that were your jobs or did you just do whatever needed doing?
Mrs I: Well, we had cookery classes, cookery school, was at Miss Mann’s. That was opposite the doctor’s now [124 Newland Street].
Q: I know, big place.
Mrs I: That was a school, Miss Mann had the school.
Q: Oh, you did cookery there, did you?
Mrs I: Yes, we had cookery lessons.
Q: Who taught you, can you remember?
Mrs I: Yes, Miss Mann.
Q: Oh, she did it herself?
Mrs I: Yes, she did it. We used to go, was it twice a week, I think, and I remember we used to have little round cap, white cap, and sleevelets, you know.
Q: I think Mr. Godfrey told me they did woodwork there as well?
Mrs I: Oh, the boys I suppose did the woodwork.
Q: She was running her school there as well, was she?
Mrs I: Yes, Miss Mann, yes. Because when Mrs Wakelin came to live there, she said ‘Oh I remember you coming to the cookery classes’.
Q: Mrs Wakelin?
Mrs I: Yes. Because that’s, see who’s, that’s Mrs Kemsley’s mother. She lives in the, Templars Close, doesn’t she. She had the first house built in Templars Close.
Q: Did she? Was that anything to do with the Wakelins at Freebornes farm, that was them, was it?
Mrs I: Oh yes. Oh he was a horrible man.
Q: Was he?
Mrs I: Oh he was, he used to swear.
Q: The farmer?
Mrs I: He did. And he used to be in the tumbril, and he came once for the elections to hear the result, and because he wasn’t elected ‘Whoo’, he said, ‘I bloody well will never stand again’. Oh, he was annoyed.
Mrs I: Was that for the Urban Council?
Mrs I: What did he stand as? Did he stand by himself or was he with a party?
Q: Oh by a party but he didn’t get in?
Mrs I: Was he Conservative or was he Liberal?
Mrs I: We didn’t have it in those days, we didn’t say. [Q: Oh, you didn’t bother ….] No, no politics wasn’t in it then. No. Nearly all farmers and the big ratepayers used to stand in those days. But I always remember, and I think Bertie Wakelin, and I think, oh he was terrible. He was annoyed.
Q: ‘Cos it was quite a big farm, wasn’t it?
Mrs I: Yes. And then Philip Hutley, you see, at Powershall End, have you been there?
Q: He stood for the Council as well did he?
Mrs I: Oh, he did, he was a big man.
Q: Was the Urban Council quite a big event, like the other? Did they have meetings and things, talks?
Mrs I: Yes, yes.
Q: Did you go to those?
Mrs I: No, we didn’t go, but of course, naturally, it would be the farmers and the big ratepayers, wouldn’t it.
Q: Yes. You said Captain Abrey stood?
Mrs I: Oh, Captain Abrey, yes, and Gardner, the auctioneer, he was next door [perhaps 24 Newland Street or 28 Newland Street: Abrey was at 26 Newland Street). His son was drowned, by the way, I remember that, when we went to Lady woods for skating.
Mrs I: Yes. That was Jack Gardner. Oh, you made your fun.
Q: Did you celebrate birthdays much, talking about fun? Do you remember what happened when it was your birthday, anything special?
Mrs I: Oh yes, you usually had a doll or something. Oh, chocolates. I always remember, we used to have them in tins, not boxes, and I think I’ve got some of the tins, yes. I remember chocolates, chiefly.
Q: What about Christmas?
Mrs I: Oh, Christmas was lovely. I mean you had the old Christmas tree, and the, there was everything sugar, everything made in sugar. I remember the sugar mice.
Q: Did you have people in, or go out a lot or anything?
Mrs I: We had the, always had the Sunday School treat for then, and the prizegiving. I always remember that, that was the Christmas time. No, very quiet. But they were so different, you had just a stocking. You never see a stocking today. And you had a new, bright new penny, and an orange at the bottom, and just any little wooden toy. They don’t today, they have pillowcases, don’t they. Oh, I don’t think it’s such fun.
Q: No, I think they expect too much don’t they?
Mrs I: The boys have them, my grandsons.
Mrs I: They still put, the pillowcase, but they still put the stockings, the girls like to do what they did. And last year I had a pillowcase, because the second one was getting too old, he knew about Father Christmas. But baby didn’t, the younger one. So they said ‘Well grandma, you have a stocking, you have a pillowcase, and then he’ll think there’s Father Christmas coming’. He said ‘Grandma, he came, didn’t he?’. You see. You’ve got to do it, haven’t you. I always remember and I thought ‘Well that is nice’. And when I was eighty I went, eighty-one, they said grandma, ‘It’s eighty can-, we’ve only one candle, minus eighty’.
[First 2 minutes blank].
Q: I’ve got a cough this time.
Mrs I: Mine is just first thing in the morning.
Q: Yes, I think it’s been cold at night, hasn’t it?
Mrs I: Lovely to have a frosty morning, I think.
Q: Nice change from all those wet ones, isn’t it. I have some questions here about what happened if you were naughty, I’ve asked you about that, haven’t I? Were you allowed to talk at mealtimes and things like that?
Mrs I: No.
Q: You had to keep quiet, did you?
Mrs I: Yes. Gracious, they chat now don’t they. Yes. They think it’s the proper thing to do, my children tell me.
Q: Talk at mealtimes?
Mrs I: Don’t talk with your mouth full, and all those things you had.
Q: And I suppose no bad language or anything?
Mrs I: No, gracious.
Q: What about other people? You said Mr Wakelin swore a lot. What did people think of that, or your grandma think of that?
Mrs I: Well you see, you had it in the farm, didn’t you, because you’d men working, they’d use it wouldn’t they? You see, naturally. But you know, it sounded awful, he was on his tumbril, you see he came, oh gracious.
Q: Yes, it’s interesting, ‘cos I’ve heard the names of all these people, but it’s nice to hear what they were like, as well, ‘cos you’d never hear otherwise, do you, nobody would write that down?
Mrs I: Oh, gracious.
Q: Was there anybody else that you, that was a bit sort of, that you knew of that was a bit rough and ready like that? [Mrs I: [Shaking head] What was Mr Hutley like?
Mrs I: Oh, he was great, he was good, he really was, he was helpful to his men, and he would pay the men at harvest time, and that would be the time they would pay their rent. Oh he was, Philip Hutley was a good man, and his sons, you see they all married, you see Ledger, the fruit farm at Faulkbourne, have you seen the fruit, yes, we used to go through the Moors to get the mushrooms. And then there was another bathing place, and we called that Meads. That was a lovely place.
Q: Up Church Street way?
Mrs I: Yes, but we didn’t go there, because the boys, you see, they didn’t have bathing trunks, the boys were naked. And I’ll tell you, the County Council came to ask when the roadway was made, you know when you had the field, the pathway laid across [perhaps the River Walk]. Mrs De’ath sent for me at the Woolpack, and she said there’s some people here from the County Council that want to make the roadway, and I had a chat there, oh I kept them smiling, because, I had to …. ‘I wondered why’, he said. ‘Well how did you get across?’. ‘Oh’, I said ‘we walked the wall and jumped the gate’. And he said ‘How did you cross?’ ‘Oh’, I said, ‘We crossed the river’. I wondered what he was waiting for. I said ‘We crossed the river with a tree, to get into Faulkbourne’. Still was, and I thought ‘What are you waiting for?’. So he said ‘Well, when you went in the other direction, to come out into the Cherry Tree’ [Cressing Road]. ‘Oh’, I said, ‘there was an old stile’. The moment I said that, he stopped ‘Can you describe the stile?’ I said ‘Yes, it was a very old oak one with one step, but’, I said, ‘we were too lazy to climb it, we got through’. He said ‘That’s all I wanted to know, because now I know it’s a right of way’.
Q: And that was where, near the Cherry Tree, you say?
Mrs I: Yes, and that’s just recently.
Q: Getting across the, whereabouts was the stile exactly then?
Mrs I: At the second field. Where they go along to the Vicarage [now the Old Vicarage, Chipping Hill].
Q: Near the river?
Mrs I: Yes, and then the next was all swamp. We used to have to put, oh we had galoshes to put over your boots, just short, wore galoshes, because we used to love to go to get the flowers there, for the school, the water buttercups, and the lilies. And that stile business, wasn’t it strange. Well he said that, yes. I mean with the stile.
Q: What was the name, you told me about the other swimming place, I’ve forgotten what you said the name was there, though, the one down ….?
Mrs I: Pea hole. [Q: Pea hole.] The Knicky Knocks.
Q: That was near Blue Mills, was it?
Mrs I: Yes. Because you see, we used to go to get the primroses, and we never bought nuts. We used to have the hazel nuts. We used to go to Rivenhall Thicks for the nuts. And the chestnuts, we used to go up the Hilly Meadow.
Q: You did a lot of walking then?
Mrs I: Yes, and the crab apples. That’s why I walk now.
Q: Yes, well it’s certainly done you good, hasn’t it?
Mrs I: Yes, well my people were always out [???] Oh I love walking, I think it’s beautiful.
Q: You said you walked to Braintree, I remember?
Mrs I: Yes, well it was a strike, yes, the cars weren’t running, and we used to go, and we had a friend, a school friend that had people at Boreham, on the Boreham road, it was nearly into Chelmsford. And on Sunday afternoons when you came from the Catechism, you’d walk straight along the Rivenhall road [now the A12], on to the Fox, have you been in that direction? And then you go all the way round and come the Oak way round. [Q: Just for a walk?] They don’t, do they?
Q: Just for the sake of a walk?
Mrs I: Yes, but they don’t do it, do they?
Q: Because the footpaths are still there, some of them, and you can get along.
Mrs I: Yes, lovely across, yes. And Olivers Hall, we used to go to Olivers Hall, for the nuts.
Q: Olivers Hall, is that down Maldon Road way, or a different one?
Mrs I: No, that was Chipping Hill, my children I used to take there, for the nuts.
Q: Whereabouts was that?
Mrs I: Oh, but I didn’t like being in the woods. It’s a lane by the Well land. Do you know we used to call it Wells. It’s Rickstones, the big house, the bottom of Rickstones Road, and then there’s a winding lane [probably path opposite Rickstones farmhouse; were some buildings up there, now demolished]
Q: I think I know, it goes up towards Rivenhall, there’s Rickstones farm.
Mrs I: Yes. Well you go right across, it didn’t take you long. We used to say ‘We’re going to Olivers Hall, for the nuts’. You didn’t …. And we were naughty, ‘cos they used to have traps in the different places went for chestnuts. Used to say ‘The man’s trap there, you’ll get caught’. But I don’t think it was for us, I think it was for the animals, the rats.
Q: Can you remember, I suppose you’d remember when cars and buses and things first came?
Mrs I: I remember the first car, having a ride, Doctor Ted.
Q: Did you? He had the first one, did he?
Mrs I: Yes, there was the first one. There was a lady, I remember, very near Whitehall [18 Newland Street], and her leg, of course they didn’t go in the hospital with broken legs, did they? The doctors. And we knew he’d come every day. And we used to wait, and he’d give us a ride back, we thought a car was wonderful, didn’t we. Remember the first car. And the horse and the trap, I remember, but you always hurt your back, riding, ‘cos you ….
Q: On the trap? I expect it was bumpy, wasn’t it?
Mrs I: Yes, it was, I remember that.
Q: Because then you said you played, I supposed you played in the High Street, did you?
Mrs I: Yes, not long, we didn’t go. At our Recreation ground there were a few swings.
Q: Was there the Park at the back, down Kings Chase, was that there then, or was that more recently. Was that park there then?
Mrs I: Kings Chase, that was, Recreation ground, didn’t call it a park. ‘Cos Chipping Hill was just as good as a playing field.
Q: Yes, you told me about that. So was it a bit, you didn’t play in the road much, then?
11 Mrs I: Oh no, you went out walking. You see, you’d get to know friends at school, wouldn’t you, they’d invite you. I used to go up to Elm Hall quite a lot, and that was a distance, and I remember the water tower being built, the new water tower at Cressing Road, I remember going up there one Sunday morning when I came from Church, oh, I was scared [either the one outside the town, or the one in Cross Road, both now demolished].
Q: You went up it did you?
Mrs I: Yes, I did, to stand and look over. Well, you like to do it, wouldn’t you, say ‘Oh, I’ve been up the water tower’.
Q: You said your grandma was cross when you went to the pea field. But these walks and things, she knew you were going walks, did she?
Mrs I: Yes, and we used to go, we used to pull the turnips up from the fields, and take them off, have a little bite, and the kohl rabbi, and the beautiful rabbits, we used to love in the harvest time, to go and see them cut the corn, see the little rabbits come. And they used to sell the rabbits on the big stick, and they used to say ’We’ll skin you one for ninepence’. Yes.
Q: Did you ever go and help in the fields or anything, or you weren’t allowed to?
Mrs I: No, I wasn’t, no. Because I was, no, but I wasn’t allowed.
Q: Just ‘cos your grandma didn’t like ….?
Mrs I: I couldn’t, you see. She’d got my care, you see.
Q: You think she was specially careful of you, ‘cos she was your grandma, you reckon?
Mrs I: Yes, I was, I was.
Q: You didn’t work at all, when you were at school?
Mrs I: No.
Q: Well, you had things to do, didn’t you?
Mrs I: Yes. But naturally you like to go. And then when people speak about the peapicking. And, you know, and they think ‘Oh, of course she didn’t go’. Well you can’t say you went if you didn’t, can you.
Q: No. I suppose a lot did go, did they, from school?
Mrs I: Well naturally, and then they had their peas home to sort. They used to have the peas, and sort the peas, Cooper Taber [seed warehouse, Avenue Road]. Oh, there was more interest than there is today.
Q: I suppose the money would come in handy for a lot of people?
Mrs I: Oh, the money, the rents were only a shilling, some of the rents.
Q: Was your house, your grandma’s house rented?
Mrs I: No, that was theirs. But my house, of course we bought it, they were only four and sixpence a week. My house was only four hundred. Now how many thousands? Gracious. When you think. It is different.
Q: You didn’t have school on Saturdays?
Mrs I: Oh no.
Q: What did you do on Saturdays, play, and walk?
Mrs I: Yes, went more to the Vicarage, yes.
Q: Sundays you went to Church all day, we’ve got that. Were you allowed to play games as well on Sundays, or did you have to ….?
Mrs I: Oh no.
Q: It wasn’t allowed?
Mrs I: And you wouldn’t put washing out on a Sunday. Oh, I feel strange for a long time. I never put my nappies on a Sunday, never. No, well, you keep to it, don’t you.
Q: Oh quite, yes. You had different clothes and things as well for a Sunday, did you?
Mrs I: Oh yes, your Sunday best. I still keep, I don’t now, but I still keep best, I never dress up, only if I’m going to the girls or that. But you always kept Sunday best, to go to Church, didn’t you? There’s no Sunday clothes now, is there?
Q: No. Did your grandma take you to Church or did you go with the children?
Mrs I: Oh, went with the Sunday school, oh yes. And I spent a lot of time at the Vicarage, I was popular, I remember, and they used to have their own Red Cross, into the Vicarage, and I remember cutting my finger once and going each day.
Q: Really? ‘Cos I know you said there were three doctors, were they all the Gimsons, or were there different doctors?
Mrs I: Oh, the Gimsons, there were three, and there was Doctor Payne. I suppose you remember Mrs. Taber [Maria Taber, nee Payne], you wouldn’t remember Doctor Payne. You see, they took that house, didn’t they, for the chemist, Stoffer first [High House, 5 Newland Street]..
Q: The big one?
Mrs I: Only that wasn’t Stoffer then, it was Doctor Payne. And there was Doctor Tomkin, and there was Doctor, what was the Scotch people, Maiseys, Doctor Maisey, next to the Home and Colonial. Yes, you had different doctors. But with the dentists, there was only one dentist, that was Mr Crisp, I used to go there a lot because I had a frame, see I’ve got rather a pointed jaw.
Q: Was that different from what it is now? What did they do if they wanted to …? Did you ever have to have any teeth taken out, or anything like that?
Mrs I: The doctor would take the teeth out, yes. Dr Gimson took, I had several, until I went, you know the other people complained, because you know old-fashioned people didn’t like it, yes, it used to be a shilling to have a tooth out.
Q: At the doctor’s?
Mrs I: Yes.
Q: Did he do anything to stop it hurting?
Mrs I: No. No.
Q: Or did he just yank it out?
Mrs I: Yes, the other one would hold your hand and just take it out. But we used to tie a little piece of cotton. Cruel.
17 Q: Didn’t it hurt?
Mrs I: It did, yes. I just recently had two teeth out, at the front.
Q: You know you were talking about the Sunday School, did they go on any outings?
Mrs I: Oh yes.
Q: Outside Witham?
Mrs I: No, no, we only went into the woods and had a few races. Oh no, there were no seaside trips.
Q: Did you ever go anywhere to go to the seaside yourself when you were a child at all?
Mrs I: Yes, Southend several times, and Clacton. Colchester, you would never have thought you were allowed there, you always thought that was military and the soldiers were around. Didn’t, no. Chelmsford was very nice.
Q: You’d go on the train if you went to these places?
Mrs I: Yes, oh yes. Always thought it was great to go on the train?
Q: So what did you do when you went to the sea, when you went to the seaside?
Mrs I: We never liked the water [Q: Didn’t you?] No. And my children don’t. If I used to take them, very often, we used, ‘cos it was only fourpence halfpenny to go to Maldon, we used to get the push chair and put them in, the lift at the station would take you down. Well then we used to walk right along to Beachy Hill. No, the children never liked the water, they used to say I was lucky, because there wasn’t that biting[?] them off, was there, they liked the sand.
Q: So when you were little you liked the sand as well did you?
Mrs I: Yes. I didn’t, no I didn’t. We used to go in the rivers, we used to take our shoes and stockings off, and go along.
Q: So these trips to Southend that you’d made, was that with your grandma?
Mrs I: No, that was older. [Q: When you were older?] Oh, no, there were no seaside trips.
Q: Did some people go?
Mrs I: No, I don’t think so, no, not until older.
Q: So were there any, did the Church organise any other clubs, or activities or anything?
Mrs I: No, no, not in my, no, because the Church House wasn’t built until later on [Collingwood Road].
Q: No, so it was mainly the things at the Vicarage?
Mrs I: Yes, it was mainly the Vicarage.
Q: Did you actually go away for any holidays or anything?
Mrs I: Oh, yes, I did, used to go to Notley and different places, and Brentwood, I went to Brentwood to friends, spent a lot of time at Brentwood, yes, for the six weeks, because we had the six weeks. Yes, pea-picking holiday you see, it would start in June, we went back again in July, then we had what we called the blackberrying holiday, for a week.
Q: As well?
Mrs I: Yes. They never go blackberrying, do they? And dandelions, we used to pick baskets of dandelions, the blossom for dandelion wine, that was supposed to be good for the heart.
Q: So did your grandma make the wine, or did you give them to other people?
Mrs I: No, to other people that did.
Q: Did they give you any money for them?
Mrs I: Oh no, everything …. Oh if you went an errand, I always remember Douglas Bowyer, that would be a friend of Jimmy Chalk, he used to have a note, used to take a note down into Edie Gaymer’s, that would be Mrs Richards, into Spurge’s shop [42 Newland Street], and you’d always have twopence, I remember that.
Q: And what did you spend it on?
Q: Oh, liquorice, sherbets, different things. And we had a Twopenny, have you heard about Miss Luard and the Twopenny?
Mrs I: Miss Luard was here then, was she?
Q: Yes, yes. Oh that was a nice, lovely place. Of course they say Luard [long a] today, we used to say Luard [stressing u, only a short a], going up to the Lodge.
Q: Was Admiral Luard alive then?
Mrs I: Yes. He was killed. Yes, I remember him being killed in the High Street in his trap. He was Liberal, oh he was a big Liberal. And then there was Commander Luard, his son.
Q: Was he killed in an accident, was he [the Admiral, 1910]?
Mrs I: Yes, in the Bridge Street.
Q: I think I remember reading that his funeral was quite a big do in the town, was it?
Mrs I: Oh it was, yes, yes. But his sons weren’t popular in the Navy. No. They were not. Commander Luard one Christmas, he threw the sailors’, the dinner, into the sea.
Mrs I: Mm, I remember that. You know, you hear the tale. Oh he wasn’t. And then one son married Bessie Luard, Bessie Ingles, at the Vicarage, and that was a big time. I remember their going, dropping the little rose petals at the wedding. And I remember going to the Vicarage to see the first grandchild.
Q: Because they still lived at the Vicarage did they?
Mrs I: Yes, then they moved to Brentwood, they went to Brentwood Priory.
Q: You say, Miss Luard was the one who ….?
Mrs I: Oh, these Miss Luards, there was five or six of them. They had the Twopenny.
Q: What do you remember about them otherwise?
Mrs I: Oh, they were very helpful. Oh, and there was a Girls Friendly Society. We used to go to that, the Girls Friendly.
Q: What did they do there?
Mrs I: Well, more, religion, and just a little knitting. Something to knit and do.
Q: When was that, was that of an evening, or the weekend?
Mrs I: No, Sunday afternoons when it wasn’t Catechism. Sunday.
Q: Whereabouts did they have that?
Mrs I: The Girls Friendly?
Q: Was that at the Vicarage?
Mrs I: Yes, at the school.
Q: That was for anybody that wanted to go?
Mrs I: Wanted to go, you see.
Q: Where did they have the Sunday School, at the ordinary, in Guithavon Street as well, was it?
Mrs I: In their school, in your schools, in your day schools.
Q: Was there a school in Church Street then?
Mrs I: Yes.
Q: The one down near the shops, where Shelley’s is [22 Church Street]?
Mrs I: Yes. Shelley’s. That was a school. Well we had the classes we used to go there, Confirmation classes I think, ‘cos you always came to the Parish Church, you always called it the Parish Church. And that’s when I remember Admiral Luard, the different ones, used to come with their coachmen, and the man at the back, you know, with the black and fawn uniform. You never see it now, do you?
Q: Goodness. He was riding in the coach, was he?
Mrs I: Yes, and you had, I don’t know what you’d call the one at the back. He’d sit at the back, big hat.
Q: Did many people in Witham, how many people would you say had coaches of their own then?
Mrs I: Percy Laurence, see that’s why he had the drive right down. We spent hours sitting there under those beautiful trees [The Avenue].
Q: In the Avenue, you mean?
Mrs I: Yes. His gates were closed. We used to hide when his coach came along. [Q: It was supposed to be private, was it?] They were Sunday school teachers. Yes, very private.
Q: But you still got in?
Mrs I: Yes, yes, we used to climb in, anywhere for a shade, didn’t you.
Q: And before they had a car, did the doctors and the solicitors and people have coaches, or how did they get about before they had the cars?
Mrs I: Chiefly, I don’t remember much. [Q: Of course they didn’t have far to go ….] No. I just remember Percy Brown, in Collingwood Road, you know, Collingwood House [15 Collingwood Road], I remember they had a pony and trap because of the children, but there weren’t many people. There’d be, of course the farmers would come in, wouldn’t they, with the horse and trap, you see.
Q: They’d have things to take on the cart, I suppose, wouldn’t they?
Mrs I: Yes, yes, it was chiefly farmers, it was a farming place. Yes. They were the big people.
Q: Did anybody have bicycles?
Mrs I: Oh yes, all cushion tyre, they were never the tyre that you pump up, they were solid tyres.
Q: Did children have those as well, did they?
Mrs I: Oh no, oh no, whoo, never had a bicycle.
Q: Didn’t you.
Mrs I: No. And they were generally a little, no toy, cycle, nothing like that. It was dolls and dolls prams.
Q: But grown-ups had bikes did they?
Mrs I: Yes, not often, there weren’t many. No, there weren’t.
Q: The roads would be a bit rough?
Mrs I: Yes, but look at the roads, and look at the manure on the roads, for the horses. And the cows used to have to come, from the market, didn’t they, and all come through. We used to have the big, now, when Christmas was coming, they’d come with their prize cow to advertise their meat, and have all the beautiful rosettes on.
Q: Was that the different farmers, you mean?
Mrs I: Yes.
27 Q: Did they sell the meat, well the cattle market you told me about, they sold it then did they [Collingwood Road, later site of Labour Hall]?
Mrs I: Yes, you’d go in the market to buy your cow and your sheep and then of course take it to the slaughterhouse. We used to go to the slaughterhouse a lot.
Q: Where was that then?
Mrs I: In Guithavon Street, at the back [back of.58 Newland Street].
Q: Next to the school, was it?
Mrs I: Yes. We used to peep through. Oh it was wicked to see the dear cows come through, and they pulled them and then the axe, oh it was horrible.
Q: You still watched?
Mrs I: Oh, naturally. And the pigs to slaughter, they used to put the pigs in the boiling water.
Q: Did they, goodness? Was it noisy as well?
Mrs I: Yes.
Q: And smelly, I should think?
Mrs I: Yes it was, they made a complaint about it.
Q: ‘Cos, you said you went to buy your cow and a pig. Did that mean people bought a cow for themselves, or you mean the butchers?
Mrs I: Oh no, the butchers. Yes. ‘Cos my friend that’s coming today, her father was a butcher.
Q: I see, yes. You used to tell me about, was it Cook’s, the butcher?
Mrs I: Yes, pork butchers, that came after, yes that was later [5 Newland Street]
Q: Who were the butchers when you were little?
Mrs I: Barwell and Sorrell.
Q: Barwell was still here was here? Was it, who ran the slaughterhouse?
Mrs I: Barwell, yes, that was, yes [58 Newland Street].
Q: Can you remember those people, the Barwells at all?
Mrs I: Oh yes. I remember them well. Well, they were the people who you thought were just a little different.
Q: A bit, better or anything?
Mrs I: Yes, yes, were just tradespeople, weren’t they?
Q: Mm, but you mean, when you say different, what way were they different?
Mrs I: Well, you looked upon the tradespeople as different to the landworkers, didn’t you? I mean that’s all it consisted of. Or railwaymen. There was nothing else to do until Crittall’s opened up [c.1920]. So of course with the tradespeople you did think you were a little different. ‘Cos my friend will often say, and I say ‘Oh don’t say it’. She says ‘Of course we’re different class’. ‘Now’ I say ‘don’t say that, say we were, they’re different’. But she will, she’ll say it now.
Continued on Tape 3