Tape 003. Mrs Dorothy Ireland (nee Goss), sides 5 and 6

Tape 3

Mrs Ireland was born in 1894; these are parts of interviews on 1 December 1976 and 11 February 1977, when she lived at 12 Chalks Road, Witham.

She also appears on tapes 1, 2, 7, 33, 86, 90 and 97.

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 ero.enquiry@essex.gov.uk 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 the 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


Continued from tape 2

Side 5

[The original two minutes of this, continued from side 4, was accidentally deleted by the beginning of the next interview. Following is a summary of what Mrs Ireland said in it:
Some people were so poor they had no shoes. Mrs Ireland herself ‘come in with the tradespeople’. Farmers were moneyed people, the only wealth there was, comparable with professionals. They weren’t snooty. But ‘you couldn’t mix if you hadn’t got the clothes’.
The first two minutes that are now on this side are therefore out of place, and continue the conversation from the end of side 6. But I’ve kept the transcript as it is on the tape.

Q:    Here we are [showing photograph: see picture 1, 48 Church Street]. That’s another one of the shop, look, but that’s a bit [???] with a car, you don’t know who that is, do you?

Dorcas Hasler in Mr Hasler's car outside his shop
Dorcas Hasler in Mr Hasler’s car outside his shop

Mrs I:    Oh, that is an ancient one. That’s the shop, now you’ve got it, haven’t you, and that’s the cottage, yes.

Q:    There we are, yes, I should have remembered that one.

Mrs I:    That’s the cottage.

Q:    And who’s name, that’s Hasler’s, yes of course, that’s Hasler’s on there, isn’t it, yes?

Mrs I:    Well, who on earth would it be, because there wouldn’t be, wouldn’t be many people ….

Q:    With a car, no,

Mrs I:    Oh no, I should think that ….

Q:    They seem quite proud of it, perhaps it’s just a visitor?

Mrs I:    Oh, I should imagine they were in the shop. That’s Hasler.

Q:    Yes, that says Hasler’s, doesn’t it?

Mrs I:    Yes, that’s Hasler. Oh, I should imagine that, oh, it’s Mr Hasler’s car, of course.

Q:    Is it?

Mrs I:    You see, with his crutches and he had his house built Rickstones Road. Why, of course, ridiculous, that’s Dorcas.

Q:    Is it?

Mrs I:    Dorcas Hasler. Of course. His sister. Ridiculous, of course that’s Freddie’s car. Oh, now you can see that’s nice. But you can’t imagine that, can you, being wood, have wooden blocks, with the grapevine.

Q:    Not really, no, ‘cos it looks quite old, even as it is, yes.

Mrs I:    Yes, that’s the cottage [on the left], and that was the store place [on the right].

Q:    And the bakehouse was round this way somewhere was it, where the garage is? [off the pic to the left]

Mrs I:    Yes, oh yes, [???] that’s through, yes. Oh of course, oh yes.

Q:    So you knew her, so she lived there too, did she?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, they both, they were both there. Hasler, it’s got his name over, the top. And Mrs Richardson that lives in this house, she worked ….

[End of this part that is out of place; this conversation continues on side 7]


[The rest of this side now goes back to 1 December]

Mrs I:    You never say, you don’t condemn people, but ….

Q:    Were you brought up to treat people any different, different sorts of people?

Mrs I:    Oh no, but you just ….

Q:    Or did you have to sort of, I remember you said when the vicar came to school you bowed and scraped?

Mrs I:    Oh, my gracious, yes.

Q:    I mean, did you have to do that for anybody else? Did you feel you’d got to curtsey for anybody else?

Mrs I:    Yes, the governors, yes, yes, Admiral Sir William Luard, we did, he was a governor, yes, and all this [miming touching cap etc.].

Q:    What about outside of school, was there anybody you sort thought you ought to be a bit extra polite to, or anything?

Mrs I:    Oh no, no.

Q:    Or to call ‘sir’ or anything.

Mrs I:    Oh no, the doctors, you know, were very good, there was no side with the doctors, no side with anyone.

Q:    I suppose your grandma was in a position to know people who were different, really, wasn’t she?

Mrs I:    Yes, different people, you see, you knew. But oh, it was, it was a different world altogether.

Q:    And I suppose the teachers, would they, what sort of group would, what sort of people did they mix with, the teachers?

Mrs I:    Well they were just ordinary people, because, look at Jimmy Chalk, he was just in Church Street.

Q:    Quite, yes.

Mrs I:    And Douglas Bowyer. Oh, Douglas Bowyer and Clara Bowyer, they kept the White Horse, you know, in Chipping Hill [2 Church Street].

Q:    Oh, did they really? So I suppose the teachers came from different sorts, mostly middle class families but they were all over ….?

Mrs I:    Yes, but there was no education was there?

Q:    So they mostly taught themselves?

Mrs I:    Yes, taught, definitely.

Q:    So, would there be a special sort of person that went to the Church rather than to the Chapel, of the classes of people, do you think?

Mrs I:    Yes, now that’s a strange question, because you did think ‘Oh, they only go to Chapel’, yes, I do agree with that.

Q:    Really? Yes, I didn’t think of that, but I read that somewhere, and it does seem strange.

Mrs I:    Yes, that is true.

Q:    But it seems to have happened in a lot of places, I think, yes.

Mrs I:    You must be Church.

Q:    Church was the correct thing?

Mrs I:    Oh, the thing.

Q:    And if you were Chapel you were a bit ….?

Mrs I:    Yes, well, you wondered why.

Q:    I see. But the say the Chalks went to Chapel?

Mrs I:    Yes, Congregational. I always remember Jessie Chalk with recitations, you know, Mrs …. [Mrs Bajwa]

Q:    I know, yes.

Mrs I:    They were rather odd. Their grandfather was ‘old miser Chalk’.

Q:    Was he?

Mrs I:    Why did they change this into Chalks Road, why didn’t they keep it Chalks Lane?

Q:    Was that it was called after, Chalk, their grandfather, was it?

Mrs I:    Yes, I expect so. Ridiculous, why did they. They were Faulkbourne people eventually. She lost her mother. They were brought up with grandparents, that’s strange.

Q:    You remember the grandparents, do you?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, and the auntie.

Q:    So they lived in Church Street?

Mrs I:    Opposite, no, they lived opposite Crittall’s, yes.

Q:    Braintree Road, I see. In that little house [55 Braintree Road]?

Mrs I:    Yes, they were Dorothy ….

Q:    The one that’s sort of end-ways on?

Mrs I:    Yes the little old place, yes. There was Dorothy, Connie and Jessie, that’s Jessie.

Q:    But you think they were a bit strange?

Mrs I:    Yes, oh, very.

Q:    What did the grandfather do for a living?

Mrs I:    He just built. He was, just, you know, rough building, what we used to say rough carpenter, you see. Yes, because you see he had those four cottages [probably 57-63 Chalks Road], and Jessie lived in one when she got older, this one here, and Dorothy, they lived together, and then Dorothy died in child-birth. And Connie, she was good, they were good, they were educated, they educated themselves, because Connie taught at Braintree High School. She’s only recently died. Can’t understand why she came back, unless it was Connie’s mother, you see, because you see the boy’s Cambridge[?]. But I thought how strange, to come back to Witham [perhaps Jessie Bajwa, who returned from East Africa].

Q:    Do you think …. would you say there were many people, I suppose if he was a builder he was almost a tradesman, I mean did tradesmen go to Church mostly or chapel?

Mrs I:    Oh yes.

Q:    Church?

Mrs I:    And the choir, yes, and sidesmen.

Q:    So the Chalks were a bit odd, really that they went to [Mrs I: Chapel], a bit different that they were going to Chapel, were they?

Mrs I:    Yes, we did, yes.

Q:    Were there any other people like that, that went to chapel that you wouldn’t really expect, wouldn’t have expected to?

Mrs I:    Cutts the fishmonger. Yes, they were Chapel people. I don’t think of other people, no.

Q:    Most of them went to Church then if they were tradesmen?

Mrs I:    Yes, yes. And then you kept in your group, you see.

Q:    Outside of the Church?

Mrs I:    Yes, yes, you see.

Q:    Your friends and that? So the Cutts and the Chalks and that keep a bit apart anyway, would they?

Mrs I:    Well, that’s all I remember, you know, that way. There was the bellringers, you always did, Church, yes.

Q:    So did the Chalks not have something to do with the bells?

Mrs I:    Bells, ringing, yes, and families before them.

Q:    So even though they were Chapel people they were, or were they different Chalks.

Mrs I:    That was these Chalks, that was generations, about three generations back, because Jimmie Chalk, he came, two years ago, it wasn’t that time. But do you remember Mrs Smith living opposite?

Q:    That’s right, yes, she was a Chalk, wasn’t she?

Mrs I:    She was a Chalk. And she said to me one day, she said ‘Jimmie’s here’, and I said ‘Yes, I know, I’ve spoken to him’. So she said ‘Do you know what he told someone?’. I said ‘No, I’m sure I don’t’. She said ‘He’d got no relatives in Witham’. I said ‘Oh well, Ethel, don’t take any notice’, I said, ‘your father and his father were brothers, but’, I said ‘probably he didn’t think’, I said, ‘leaving Witham all those years’. But I remember she was annoyed about that.

Q:    I see, so their fathers were brothers, so they weren’t the same?

Mrs I:    Yes, yes [note that later Mrs I: implied they were more distant relatives, not brothers].

Q:    There was quite a lot of them then, weren’t there.

Mrs I:    Yes, yes. But old miser, but that was where there grandfathers probably could have been first cousins.

Q:    Yes. What made people call him a miser?

Mrs I:    Well, because he dressed terrible.

Q:    Did he?

Mrs I:    Oh, he was a strange old man. And then auntie, that was the maiden auntie, that’s who brought them up.

Q:    I suppose every place had people who were a bit different?

Mrs I:    Definitely.

Q:    I suppose children tended to notice it more, really, didn’t you, laugh at them, did you?

Mrs I:    Of course you do. Same as I said to you about old Sammy Page, he was strange. ‘My lady’, he’d go.

Q:    So he was very sort of ….?

Mrs I:    Oh very.

Q:    To everybody?

Mrs I:    Yes, oh yes, but he was fun. Oh yes.

Q:    Did he go to Church or Chapel or don’t you remember?

Mrs I:    No, I don’t think he went.

Q:    Probably didn’t go anywhere? I suppose there were quite a lot of people that didn’t go anywhere by then, were there?

Mrs I:    Definitely.

Q:    Yes Interesting, isn’t it. I suppose the poor people, if they went to Church at all, they went to the Chapel, would you say, the poorer people?

Mrs I:    No, I don’t think, oh no, they’d go to Church, because they’d get help, oh, the poorer.

Q:    Oh I see, oh that’s interesting, yes.

Mrs I:    They used to have a little loaf when we came out of Church, the old ladies used to go after service and have a loaf, little cottage loaf.

Q:    I see.

Mrs I:    And the beef at the Vicarage [now Old Vicarage], and the soup kitchens.

Q:    I see, so they’d all keep going to Church, would they.

Mrs I:    Yes, oh yes.

Q:    So it was the top and the bottom at the Church and the middle at the Chapel?

Mrs I:    And then of course they had what they called the ‘pence lady’, used to go each Monday, and they had a card and put a penny on, the club card.

Q:    It was a sort of club, was it?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    Did the Church do that as well, did they?

Mrs I:    The Vicarage, yes, you went, yes, on a Sunday, you took your card.

Q:    And then what did you get for that?

Mrs I:    Well you could spend it on any toy, or they’d have it for their clothes. Because at the Lodge [Witham Lodge, Hatfield Road], they had something for cutting out underclothes, and they used to go, all flannelette.

Q:    I see, so that people used to be able to get the clothes from there?

Mrs I:    Yes, yes, you see, you’d go to church because if you didn’t go to Church you wouldn’t get help, would you. That’s what they did it for, to get the people to Church [laugh].

Q:    You talked about the poor people. Would you say there were different sorts of working class people, some perhaps rougher than others, or did you think of them all as the same?

Mrs I:    Well. You knew, didn’t you, by their dress.

Q:    ‘Cos you said you were a bit afraid to go down there [Trafalgar Square and Church Street]?

Mrs I:    Oh yes.

Q:    Was that because they were rough?

Mrs I:    Well, they used to get drunk on a penny, penny a pint?

Q:    Would you say nearly all poor families, people, would get drunk, or only some, were some quite well behaved as well?

Mrs I:    Oh no, all, we used to watch them.

Q:    Were there many, you wouldn’t say there were any sort of respectable type of poor people, you just [???] all of them?

Mrs I:    Oh no, oh no. I mean if you’re poor it doesn’t matter, how poor you are.

Q:    No, quite, It’s just that I think in some places people reckon that say the craftsmen, who perhaps had a job or something, were still poor, but they tried to keep a bit more respectable.

Mrs I:    Oh yes, you would do that.

Q:    But they were still quite poor?

Mrs I:    Yes, oh, it was, yes

Q:    But the people all lived in the same places that you told me about, did they  [Trafalgar Square and Church Street]?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    Would anyone ever manage to change, do you think, from one group, to better themselves, much, in those days, or did you think you were more or less set in what you were?

Mrs I:    No, not until Crittalls’ came.

Q:    You tended to stay in the same position that you were in?

Mrs I:    Yes, oh you bettered yourself, you educated yourself, the different things to do.

Q:    Some people managed to better themselves and get on?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    Well, like you said, about the teachers and so on, I suppose? Did you see any, do you remember the policemen when you were around, what did you used to think of them when you were little?

Mrs I:    There weren’t many, now that’s a strange question, no, I don’t remember the policemen.

Q:    Funny. Was the police station that place in Guithavon Street then [now site of Mill Vale Lodge, Guithavon Street]?

Mrs I:    Yes, yes, where they’ve got it for the centre, isn’t it.

Q:    The clinic, isn’t it. But you don’t remember seeing any policemen much?

Mrs I:    No. I don’t think they could have had …. Whoever was the magistrate, Philip Hutley, of course, J.P., J.P.

Q:    Yes, of course, the farmers mostly.

Mrs I:    Yes, it would be the councillors, of course. That was each Tuesday, I remember.

Q:    It’s still Tuesday now, I think.

Mrs I:    Oh, is it?

Q:    Funny, isn’t it? Where did they have the court then?

Mrs I:    There, Guithavon, yes.

Q:    At the police station, of course, yes.

Mrs I:    And the policemen lived there. Well I remember Inspector Girt[?]. But that’s, old, you see, but not as children.

Q:    Not when you were little, no?

Mrs I:    I don’t. Of course there was policemen, wasn’t there?

Q:    I think, they used to have people on the beat, you know, didn’t they, perhaps they didn’t need them where you lived [laugh]?

Mrs I:    No. Strange, though.

Q:    Yes, it is, isn’t it.

Mrs I:    That I don’t remember a policeman.

Q:    You say you remember about the court being on a Tuesday, did you notice anything different about then?

Mrs I:    Yes, oh yes, you noticed they all went.

Q:    What did you used to see, all the magistrates coming, when you were at school?

Mrs I:    Yes, going, and the people go, yes.

Q:    And the people that were ….?

Mrs I:    Yes. But you didn’t see them taken in the prison vans.

Q:    Didn’t you?

Mrs I:    Never had a van. You’d watch, on a Tuesday, you were interested.

Q:    Yes. Can you remember what sort of things they used to have to go to court for?

Mrs I:    Chiefly breaking windows, and stealing.

Q:    Really, yes?

Mrs I:    That’s all. Getting drunk, and disorderly. The boys were a nuisance. But if you just stole a little thing, it was the policeman.

Q:    You remember the policemen doing that sort of thing, yes.

Mrs I:    Oh, yes. I remember one little boy particularly, well in fact it was Mr Poulter’s [Albert’s] brother. He only went into the Dr Combes’ garden and stole some grapes, and he was put in a Reformed School at Chelmsford, just for that simple thing.

Q:    Really? Goodness. So what, the policemen caught him?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    I wonder how they found, do you think they were watching for him or something?

Mrs I:    Yes. Well I’d forgotten, but when a death came, you see, and he came to the funeral, and I thought ‘Oh of course’, and then you think, don’t you, ‘oh of course, I knew Ernie’. I thought ‘Oh yes, you went into that Approved School’.

Q:    Goodness. And yet probably other children would steal lots of fruit and nobody would see?

Mrs I:    Yes. Or if you did anything naughty in the housework. I remember one boy, their mother was paralysed, and after it was all cleaned up he would sprinkle dirt or something like that. And in the School he’d go, ‘cos he was naughty. Or chickens, they’d steal a chicken. But they went for the simplest little thing, into an Approved School.

Q:    And other children could get away with it you think, without?

Mrs I:    Yes, yes.

Q:    I wonder why that was?

Mrs I:    That was at Chelmsford, I remember.

Q:    Do you? And what, they went and stayed there right through their schooldays, more or less?

Mrs I:    Yes, right through, yes.

Q:    Left home altogether?

Mrs I:    And then the army came and they were released, weren’t they?

Q:    Yes, I suppose so, yes. I suppose, talking of people leaving home, I suppose the Workhouse would still be there then, was it?

Mrs I:    Yes. Well, if they got out of work, they used to walk to Braintree. We used to say to the Union.

Q:    I see, that was at Braintree?

Mrs I:    Yes. ‘Cos the thrashing tackle, there were several men there, I remember, paper[?] men. And you’d say ‘Oh, they’ve had to go into the Union, they’ve got no home’. And they would have to walk. And I don’t know if they had their money, they used to have the money, but I think it was, used to go to Braintree and you would say you were ‘on the parish’. Used to give the people perhaps five shillings a week, and you would say ‘Well, they’ve had to go on the parish’.

Q:    Would they have to go to Braintree to get it?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    Even just to get the money?

Mrs I:    Yes to get the money, you see.

Q:    But some people actually went into the Union did they, and stayed there?

Mrs I:    Into it, oh yes. And then the girls came out and there was a Home next to the Bridge Hospital, Poplar Hall, where the girls came from Braintree Union, yes [north-west corner of Hatfield Road and Spinks Lane].

Q:    I didn’t know that. ‘Cos I think before the Bridge Hospital was the hospital, that was the Union, but that was before your time, wasn’t it?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, that was before my time.

Q:    It seems a long way to go to Braintree, wasn’t it, especially if you weren’t very well fed or anything.

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    I know there was something else I was going to ask. Oh yes, do you remember any newspapers, how did you find out about what was going on?

Mrs I:    The railway station, and, Afford’s, on the corner [70 Newland Street]

Q:    Did you grandma buy a newspaper, or did you have to go and see?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, used to go and get your newspaper, used to like to. Oh, and I was never allowed a comic-cuts.

Q:    Weren’t you?

Mrs I:    No. Now it’s all they buy the children today, the comic-cuts, and my children didn’t have them.

Q:    Did some of the other children, when you were little, your friends had them, did they?

Mrs I:    No.

Q:    They didn’t? But they did have them in the shop?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, they had them.

Q:    So some people had them. But you didn’t know anybody that did, then?

Mrs I:    No, no.

Q:    So that was how, things like big events, that was how you would find out about them, from the newspaper, then?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, yes.

Q:    What newspaper was there, were there?

Mrs I:    Weekly.

Q:    Weekly, mostly?

Mrs I:    Yes, nothing much.

Q:    ‘Cos for instance, you said you remembered the Boer War well [Mrs I: Yes, I remember that. Kimberley], some of the things that happened there you would read in the newspaper, would you? What do you remember happening in Witham?

Mrs I:    I remember when my people came from the War, and there was an aunt[?] in[?] Kimberley, I always remember I had a half a sovereign, I expect, it was a little gold farthing, and I always remember going across to the shops to buy a doll, I remember that part of it.

Q:    Which shops did you get the doll, get the doll at?

Mrs I:    Ottley’s.

Q:    Ottley’s?

Mrs I:    Ottley’s, we called it, Miss Orries[?], yes I remember that.

Q:    ‘Cos I remember, I don’t know whether this would be when you were at school, in 1900, when Mafeking was relieved, and things like that ….?

Mrs I:    Yes [???] Boer War, yes, we beat Kruger [Kruger with a soft g]

Q:    What did they do at school when something like that happened?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, we used to have that, used to say ‘The Queen will reign over Victoria, and Kruger will stick in a tree’. ‘French, Roberts and Buller’, that’s right, ‘Baden-Powell and White, all went out to Africa to have a jolly good fight. When the War is over, how happy will be, the flag will fly over Victoria, and Kruger will stick in a tree’ [laugh]. See, we used to have all that, you see, interesting.

Q:    So you were probably more interested in things going on?

Mrs I:    Yes, we loved it.

Q:    So it gave you something to find out about?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    Did it make much difference to Witham otherwise. Like, I mean, I know the First War, and even the Second War, made a difference to the people in England, did the Boer War make much difference to you otherwise?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, oh yes.

Q:    In what ways?

Mrs I:    Oh the different, didn’t come back, you know, they went, oh no, oh no. I remember Kimberley, I always remember that.

Q:    ‘Cos I suppose it was not long after that when Queen Victoria died, was it. Can you remember that at all, what happened then?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, I remember, at school, yes, no, the Corona-, her Diamond Jubilee, we had the medals. But I remember, oh I remember going to Church.

Q:    Really?

Mrs I:    Yes, I do, All Saints.

Q:    You mean the Jubilee, or when she died?

Mrs I:    When she died. And then the Coronation followed on.

Q:    Yes of course, yes.

Mrs I:    Edward’s, yes.

Q:    So what happened then?

Mrs I:    Oh we had the medals and the mugs.

Q:    Like the Jubilee?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    Did they have anything else on in the town, anything special to celebrate?

Mrs I:    Then a Treat, yes, we had a tea. In the hall, yes, you’d have a tea. And that’s when you’d be presented with your mug.

Q:    I see, yes. So you’ve got the mug still, have you?

Mrs I:    Yes, I’ve got the mug. The children have got theirs. I haven’t a mug of Queen Victoria, but Marie has the little teapot that I had, you know, for the child’s tea-set. She’s got the teapot but not the …. I got a little tea-set with the Princess Margaret when they were small.

Q:    Of course it’s the Jubilee next year, isn’t it?

Mrs I:    Wonder what, oh, I don’t agree with it, I’m not interested.

Q:    Are you not?

Mrs I:    No, I’m not interested at all. In fact I rather pull Philip to pieces when he makes his speeches. Because after all, he’s not an Englishman, he’s Greek, isn’t he, and he came into England poor, didn’t he, and we’re keeping him. Well I never ought to say we, I’m sorry, but we are, aren’t we?

Q:    I suppose we are yes, yes.

Mrs I:    Oh no, I don’t think he should criticise. No, I’ve gone off Royalty.

Q:    Oh that’s ….

Mrs I:    It was nice in our young time.

Q:    Because it used to be quite important, probably, when you were little?

Mrs I:    Oh very, but not today, not today, not the same, is it?

Q:    I think probably John’ll want to go to work in a minute. Do you want to go and get on with your jobs now?

Mrs I:    Yes, yes. Have you finished?

Side 6

Q:    Let’s, wait a minute, that’s your one [photo on Christmas card]. Chipping Hill ones are up at this end. We’ll start with those, seeing you’ve got one. Wait a minute, there’s Chipping Hill, let’s start ….

Mrs I:    I don’t think you’ve got with the houses, have you?
II 16 a chipping hill (Mike Wadhams photo)

North side of Chipping Hill Green
North side of Chipping Hill Green

Q:    Where are we. There look, that must be nearly the same, I should think, isn’t it? [showing photograph reproduced above: see pictures 2a and 2b,  including 32 Chipping Hill and 34 Chipping Hill and possibly other later numbers, since demolished]

Mrs I:    Oh yes, that’s a plainer one.

Q:    It’s nearly the same, isn’t it?

Mrs I:    Yes, oh, that is the one, oh yes.

Q:    You said the sweep used to live there, did you?

Mrs I:    That’s the sweep, yes.

Q:    What, the big one in the front [(1) in picture; 1, 2, 3 and 4 are all parts of 32 Chipping Hill and 34 Chipping Hill, on the green, since demolished]?

Mrs I:    And then there were three, I remember an old lady used to live in there, she always was smoking a pipe, by the fireplace [probably (2) on picture].

Q:    Really? That was when you were little, was it?

Mrs I:    Oh, yes, when we came up to Mrs Doole’s, to Vera’s, and Cissie. Now, I went to see Cissie yesterday, Cressing Road [possibly Miss Taylor], and she came there to stay with Mrs Doole because their mothers were sisters.

Q:    I see, Mrs Doole was over ….?

Mrs I:    Yes, that’s Mrs Grape’s mother.

Q:    On, in the Post Office [45 Chipping Hill]?

Mrs I:    Yes, that’s right. Oh, and I remember, we used to see the sweep, and this old lady, it was a Mrs Butler.

Q:    Mrs Butler? You’ve got a good memory, haven’t you?

Mrs I:    Yes, bellringer.

Q:    You’ve got a good memory, haven’t you?

Mrs I:    Yes. And a Mrs Clark [probably 3 on picture]. Somebody said the other day ‘Shaver Clark’, now what were they showing me? And they said ‘That’s Shaver Clark’, and I said ‘Oh yes, I remember’. And the little one just at the bottom [probably 4 on picture], you can remember them all.

Q:    Really, those are the cottages ….?

Mrs I:    Yes, yes, that was the sweep’s, that part came on to the green.

Q:    Actually there’s another picture, yes, there, look.

Mrs I:    Oh look, you’ve got some people there.

Q:    I should put your glasses on, you be on them!

Mrs I:    Oh, I never.

Q:    Except they’re a bit small, I don’t know whether you’ll be able to tell.

Mrs I:    There’s one in Church Street they say they’ve got with me, somebody said the other day.

Q:    Oh well, you never know. It’s a bit faint that one, isn’t it?

Mrs I:    Very.

Q:    I expect it was just whoever was passing?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, because look at this hat, there’s the bowler. Oh yes.

Q:    ‘Cos who was the blacksmith then?

Mrs I:    Quy, still Quy. Oh no of course, sorry.

Q:    And then it was Dorking’s, wasn’t it.

Mrs I:    Dorking. It was Quy. Poor old Quy, he went to live in the Avenue and his father before him, and they always went down to the mill, as we called the mill, fishing, always sitting on that wall, fishing.

Q:    The bridge one, yes [1 Powershall End]?

Mrs I:    And Dorking, that was there, of course that’s why ….

Q:    They were Witham people, were they?

Mrs I:    Yes, yes. And that’s why, he worked for him as a boy and he left them the business. But it did get ‘dilaperated’, didn’t it?

Q:    It did, didn’t it. It wasn’t all that good then, was it?

Mrs I:    Oh no, oh no. But course, Quy himself kept it in repair, you do, don’t you, when it’s yours. Oh there’s the lamp-post, that’s what we used to have. And that beautiful green, and they’ve spoilt it.

Q:    It was quite small, then, I suppose, wasn’t it. You see that’s the ….?

Mrs I:    There might be another one?
II 17 a chipping hill green (Mike Wadhams pic 17a))

North side of Chipping Hill green, closer
North side of Chipping Hill green, closer

Q:    See [showing photograph: see pictures 3a and 3b, Chipping Hill closer, shown above], that’s got this, it’s funny that, is that part of his house, that funny ….?

Mrs I:    Oh that’s the same one. Yes, you see, she fenced that off.

Q:    It’s a fence, is it [(1) in picture]?

Mrs I:    Yes, well then the person that sent me this [Christmas card] wondered if I should recognise it because her grandma, she said, lived at the back of these, you see, you can see [(5) on photo, 26 Chipping Hill]. You know where it is now, don’t you?

Q:    That’s those ones down there, isn’t there yes.

Mrs I:    You’ve seen that one, haven’t you. Well then there are two [28 Chipping Hill and 30 Chipping Hill]. But you see, with this, the sweep, putting this fencing up, you see it hid those two people at the back.

Q:    Yes, it must have been ….?

Mrs I:    Oh you see, these three doors, look [32 Chipping Hill and 34 Chipping Hill].

Q:    Yes.

Mrs I:    Oh yes, I remember Vera Rudkin living there.

Q:    What, she was the ….?

Mrs I:    Sweep, yes.

Q:    I suppose the sweep would be kept busy in those days, wouldn’t he.

Mrs I:    Oh isn’t that lovely.

Q:    Yes, I don’t know who took that, it’s from a museum somewhere, that one.

Mrs I:    That would be Mrs Finch living there, Mark Russell, he was gardener at the Vicarage.

Q:    The one next to the gate [26 Chipping Hill]?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    The gardener?

Mrs I:    Yes. And he was killed in the 1914 War, I remember, Mark Russell.

Q:    Oh, this is a nice one.

Mrs I:    It’s nice that, isn’t it?

Mrs I:    Oh, it is.

Q:    Yes, I’ve never seen another one of those.

Mrs I:    See how they used to put their windows in the roof?

Q:    The ones at the top, that must have been the bedrooms, I suppose?

Mrs I:    Yes, always. Then they’d only be a shilling a week, those rents, yes.

Q:    Yes, ‘cos I was thinking, I didn’t talk to you much about when you went out to work, you were collecting the rents, you said?

Mrs I:    Yes, oh yes.

Q:    Who did you collect them for?

Mrs I:    Yes. Well, over, oh, for Mrs Wadley at the bottom. And the houses opposite here, these four [11-14 Chalks Road], were the biggest rent, four and sixpence. I always remember ….?

Q:    Four and six, yes. That’s not your houses, you mean?

Mrs I:    Yes, my four.

Q:    Your houses, yes, I see.

Mrs I:    The others were not, the others were smaller.

Q:    So what Mrs Whiteley [actually Wadley] owned them all, did she?

Mrs I:    Yes, and I, there were twenty-five, the ones into Church Street, and these four.

Q:    Those weren’t hers [32 Chipping Hill and 34 Chipping Hill]?

Mrs I:    Oh no.

Q:    No. Where did Mrs Whiteley [actually Wadley] live?

Mrs I:    With the, Vera Grape’s, only I will say Vera Doole because I know them by their maiden names, don’t I?

Q:    Yes. That’s at the, Dean House [21 Chalks Road]?

Mrs I:    Vera. Yes, that’s right. Well, it was from the shop, you see [48 Church Street]. You went from the shop, you know, the shop that now’s there, and you went the back way, into, that was a private house after the business house, you see, and you popped across.

Q:    Sorry, this is the, where was that, at the ….?

Mrs I:    Yes, you went from Church Street back into the big, to Dean House, you see, it was a house that belonged to the business.

Q:    Oh, I see, oh I see.

Mrs I:    Yes, and horses, and everything there for the bread van, were where the houses are now built [probably 22-24 Chalks Road], those that are down. That was a meadow, you see, with the horses, because you’d got to put somewhere for the horses to feed, hadn’t you. Oh, when I think of it. You know I ought not to say it, but that’s spoilt, because people want to live, and want houses don’t they? But you know, when you think.

Q:    It’s a big change, isn’t it?

Mrs I:    Well, that was nicer. Once they started it was best to continue [probably enlarging Witham].

Q:    So that, what was the bus-, so the business then, the business at Dean House was ….?

Mrs I:    Yes the bakehouse, they had.

Q:    The bakehouse. Was that in the Dean House part?

Mrs I:    No, in Church Street.

Q:    Oh in the Church Street. And it was all connected through round the back, was it? I see, yes.

Mrs I:    Oh, that’s the way, yes. And the horses used to have their heads over the stables when you passed through.

Q:    ‘Cos I think there’s some, there is some of Church Street, which might ….?

Mrs I:    Oh, I wondered.

Q:    Well, here we are, look, you know where that is, don’t you? That doesn’t look very different really, does it, that’s Chalks Road, except it was obviously before our houses were built [north side]? [showing photograph: see pictures 4a and 4b, Chalks Road, middle]

m0283 chalks road

East end of Chalks Road
East end of Chalks Road

Mrs I:    Oh, now why did they change it to Lane? I still have a letter come Chalks Lane. I don’t know why, ‘cos I think it was …. Oh, they look very nice, don’t they. These were Chalks [(1) on picture, now 1-4 Chalks Road], and there’s the two [(2) on picture, now 5-6 Chalks Road].

Q:    The Chalks were the end ones, end four were they?

Mrs I:    Yes. Oh, they look very different, don’t they. I should have never thought it. Oh, I should think it was taken purposely for these four.

Q:    When they were quite new perhaps, yes [probably photo later actually]?

Mrs I:    Oh I should imagine that. Oh there’s the carts[?], you see, look.

Q:    Yes, it was obviously after they had the cars, wasn’t it. And yours was there, then, as well [12 Chalks Road].

Mrs I:    Oh yes, you just caught that one. See but these four, you see, look so small, and they’re the same size.

Q:    It’s just the way the photo went, isn’t it?

Mrs I:    Yes, the photo, it went from that end, far end.

Q:    So Mr Chalk had all these four [1-4 Chalks Road], did he, and then ….?

Mrs I:    Oh yes.

Q:    But not those?

Mrs I:    No, because those were all Tylers.

Q:    What, the two in the middle, yes [5-6 Chalks Road]?

Mrs I:    Yes, the two. Oh I do think it was a pity they changed from Chalk Lane.

Q:    Oh and that’s the other end [showing photograph: see picture 5, Chalks Road, west end].

Western end of Chalks Road
Western end of Chalks Road

Mrs I:    You haven’t got one?

Q:    That’s just the gate, the fence?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, that’s after Dean House. And the almshouses are still there, aren’t they [50 Church Street and 52 Church Street], and the brick wall. And of course this was all vacant. Chalk Lane.

Q:    So this was …. When was Dean House built, then, I wonder?

Mrs I:    Oh, when I was very small.

Q:    Was it, yes?

Mrs I:    Yes. Because I remember her mother living in Church Street, and we said ‘Oh, the house is going to be built’. Oh, I did know, ‘cos Mr Doole asked me when they bought it. Because he altered it, he had the windows put at the side to make the dining room larger. And I’d got those photographs but I gave it to him ‘cos of course he was interested, he wanted it altered.

Q:    And that went right through round the to the shop way?

Mrs I:    Right through, yes.

Q:    Yes, ‘cos these are ….?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, look and you can see Richards the builders, can’t you, there. There’s the back way of theirs [56 Church Street and yard behind].

Q:    That was there, and there’s just a sort of bank there, where the houses are now, isn’t it [on right, north side of road]?

Mrs I:    Yes, yes. Oh it was lovely then, and that was where the ….

Q:    I remember you telling me one time about you getting the lamps [in Chalks Road]?

Mrs I:    Yes, well I did that.

Q:    When was that, was that when you lived here?

Mrs I:    Yes, we had one person, one remark, I went just our road [Chalks Road], and just round the corner, to the corner, and there were some Ottley girls, and of course, they went dancing, and it was the auntie that lived next door. You always found that in olden times, that they went, mother, and then the daughter lived in it. Same as Mrs Hayes, Mrs Hayes there then the daughter lived in it [11 Chalks Road]. Joan, who we call Joan, her mother and father were there, yes [10 Chalks Road]. Billy Dazeley, his mother and father [6 Chalks Road]. They always did that sort of thing, passed it on. Because they lived together in those days, didn’t they, more or less.

Q:    When they were married, they’d stay there too, yes?

Mrs I:    When they were married they never had their own homes. And I often think of that. And so, next door was the Ottleys’ relatives. ‘Oh no’, she said, ‘we don’t want the lamps to go out late at night’ [probably meaning don’t want them on at all?]. Of course we knew that she was nasty, you see, because, you know, she knew these girls went out dancing. But no, that’s how we got the lamp. I always think of that.

Q:    When was that then, about?

Mrs I:    Oh, Joan [Shelley] said to me the other day, ‘Have you got that photograph?’ You see, people ask you for them, and you pass on. I think it was because I was with a little girl and she said ‘You haven’t got the photograph of me as a baby, ‘cos I haven’t got one?’. Only you pass it over, and the dog, but I regret that. Joan often asks.

Q:    So that was when you were living there that you got the lamp?

Mrs I:    Oh yes.

Q:    So there was no light at all then?

Mrs I:    No, no lamps. And you know the lamplighter used to come along, you know, pull them at night.

Q:    Yes?

Mrs I:    Yes, it was nice to see it all lighted, the lamps, I often think of that. Yes, I did it for Mrs Wadley, I did it. She said ‘You know the people, perhaps’, you know, ‘they’ll be a little different’. But of course that didn’t thankful[?] of her, but still, it was nice. Mr Wadley was the councillor, and we were pleased.

Q:    Yes, so you took it to him?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    Mr Wadley?

Mrs I:    Yes, and the lamp was put on.

Q:    Yes, where was he?

Mrs I:    He was a councillor. But he was in the bakehouse. He was the grocer and bakehouse, they were in three then [48 Church Street and perhaps 46 also]. They were only wooden places then, with the grapevines.

Q:    Oh really?

Mrs I:    Mrs, now I gave that photograph to, Keeble, only she’s Mrs Smith. She wanted it for the school, the third house in Chalk Road [Gladys Smith, Michaeldene, Chalks Road].

Q:    Yes, Howbridge School they’ve got a lot of photos, haven’t they, yes.

Mrs I:    Well she asked me. I said, oh yes, you can take that to Mr Smith [probably Maurice Smith, former head of Howbridge]. And then she said ‘Do you remember who built them?’ ‘Well, I said, it’s on the deeds, I can get the deeds’. And it was a Jacobs.

Q:    Really?

Mrs I:    Yes, they were only wooden, with these grapevines.

Q:    Oh, that’s the Church Street houses?

Mrs I:    Church Street [probably 48 Church Street, possibly 46 Church Street as well].

Q:    Where you had the deeds of?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    Oh, I see.

Mrs I:    Yes, that was pulled down, you see, and altered. Oh you do ….

Q:    So whereabouts, there’s one here of Church Street, I think?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, I suppose you’ve got all Charity Row, as we call it, the little row opposite the church, have you?

Q:    I was wondering if I’d got one of where the bake ….? That’s, I was just wondering where the, there, look [showing photograph: see pictures 6a and 6b, Church Street].

m0719 church street with kate say

Church Street near the junction with Chalks Road
Church Street near the junction with Chalks Road

Mrs I:    Oh, look.

Q:    There’s some people there.

Mrs I:    Oh, I can see some people there, I can see Kate Say [(1 on pic]. Oh, yes, and Annie Thompson, oh yes [(2) on pic].

Q:    Are those the ones in the road there?

Mrs I:    Oh, yes. Oh, yes. No, you see, that’s done in Wadley’s time [(3) on picture, 48 Church Street].

Q:    What, the shop, that’s Woods?

Mrs I:    And then there’s Hasler’s, yes. That was a shop there, on the corner [54a Church Street].

Q:    Was it? What did they do there?

Mrs I:    Well. Oh, that was a nice shop, it was a pork butchers.

Q:    Really?

Mrs I:    And, he was paralysed, and of course when this was sold, during the war, Freda [Elfreda] Griggs, you know, the music teacher, well she came to take over that shop, after the 1914 War [48 Church Street].

Q:    Oh, I see.

Mrs I:    And he bought it. Her mother [hushed], well it doesn’t matter, her mother couldn’t afford, her father died, they couldn’t afford the rent, so of course it went to the agents, you see, and Hasler thought if he bought that over, he wouldn’t have competition.

Q:    Quite, yes.

Mrs I:    So he came out of the pork butchers and went into there.

Q:    What, and his shop just closed?

Mrs I:    Yes. Then, closed that, and Freda, you see, course he was able to get Griggs out, and so of course Freda went into the little cottage [probably 54A Church Street].

Q:    To his place?

Mrs I:    Yes. And then they moved into Chalk Road later [Beverley, Chalks Road]. They was a very gifted family, Freda and her two brothers were.

Q:    Were they?

Mrs I:    So the Vicar, you don’t get that charity these days, so the vicar and Dell, the County High School at Braintree, schoolmaster, paid for Rex, and he’s beautiful with art. Have you, you’ve heard of him?

Q:    His drawings, yes.

Mrs I:    It was because he was clever. But the other poor boy was killed, in the bombing, in Chelmsford [Alfred, at Hoffman’s, Second World War]

Q:    Really.

Mrs I:    So Freda’s very, but, Freda was just unfortunate, she didn’t make the eleven-plus, so she couldn’t be the music teacher at Braintree.

Q:    Really?

Mrs I:    So she went on her own. Wasn’t it a pity?

Q:    Isn’t that a shame?

Mrs I:    She just hadn’t got that education, but she’d got the music talent, hadn’t she. She’s very interesting, she’s very nice. She always, you know, just pops in and sends a card for old times sake.

Q:    That’s right. Was it here, it was somewhere up here that you told me there was a shop for the soldiers in the War?

Mrs I:    Oh, this was it [48 Church Street].

Q:    That was there at the same place, was it?

Mrs I:    That was, Freda, you see, when Freda came, and of course it was empty, so of course the soldiers went in there.

Q:    Oh I see, that was between ….?

Mrs I:    It was the, all the meat of the soldiers, you had, yes well it was between 1914 and 1920. And all the meat. Oh, that was good. Oh, several of the girls married soldiers from there, smile about, I often smile about it.

Q:    What, they lived in there as well as ….?

Mrs I:    Yes, oh yes. See, ‘cos there was the stables for the soldiers to all go into, you see.

Q:    Oh, that was still there then, yes?

Mrs I:    Yes, it was the headquarters.

Q:    And this business with the grapevine, the thing with the grapevine?

Mrs I:    That’s where the grapevine was, where the shop is.

Q:    Where the shop, so the shop wasn’t there at all then?

Mrs I:    Oh, yes, only it was wood, you know, just the boards across, and then the grapevine to cover. Then it was made into the nice …..
18    Q:    Yes, and the bakehouse was round ….?

Mrs I:    Oh, beautiful place. That happened quite recently, that was taken down. In, was it Mr Pendle? No, Mr Wood did it [Vivien J.Wood].

Q:    Oh, did he?

Mrs I:    Were you here in Mr Pendle’s time?

Q:    No, no, only Mr Wood was here when we came.

Mrs I:    Oh. Well, Mr Wood, he did that because those people that live opposite, next to Joan, he was in there, and I don’t know why they took it down. But oh, the rats. After, we had them, all along the back. But I think it was a pity that they took the bakehouse down. You know, ‘cos it was so useful, and another thing, it was so interesting for people to go to see the bread troughs, you see, because they were expensive.

Q:    Yes.

Mrs I:    I was surprised they did that.

Q:    So Mr Pendle used to use it still as a bakehouse, did he?

Mrs I:    Yes, Mr Pendle did it, and he was proud of it. But Mr Wood had it all down, and then had his garden, a pool, and different things.

Q:    Yes, yes.

Mrs I:    But I think it was a pity. Oh, I do, great pity, I was very surprised. And this little one, look, that’s got the archway over, that was in steel [42 Church Street]. So Mr Richards said to me ‘I think, Dolly, I shall keep that archway, but’, he said, ‘I’ll do it in wood’, so have you noticed it’s got the wood, yes.

Q:    Yes, in fact there’s quite a lot of arches like that in Witham, there’s one next to the doctors [127 Newland Street].

Mrs I:    Yes, very.

Q:    Was that Mr Richards?

Mrs I:    Yes, that’s right.

Q:    Yes, I’ve often wondered who built them, ‘cos they’re all rather the same, aren’t they?

Mrs I:    Yes. He’s got his house in, he’s got his house, Powershall End, and he’s got that put over [26 Powershall End]. But these dear old people, they used to sit in that little seat. It was ironwork, you see. Now Mrs Richardson was telling me, the person that lives in this next house now [44 Church Street], she said she had a person come to see her, and she said ‘This is my old home, and do you think’, she said, ‘would you mind, if I looked over it?’. Of course she found it very different, ‘cos of course, Mrs Richardson had done it up nicely. Oh, that’s a nice part, but all this was Hasler’s, but you can’t see it’s a shop, can you?

Q:    No you can’t, I didn’t realise that, no.

Mrs I:    I always remember they pulled that down on a Good Friday morning, ‘cos what a strange, I suppose that was for the Easter holiday, wasn’t it, ‘cos there was the pavement and all there, there’s no pavement now.

Q:    No there isn’t, there was a pavement round the corner there, was there?

Mrs I:    Pavement there. Yes, they were just thatched, two little thatched cottages.

Q:    Yes.

Mrs I:    And the pavement, there’s no pavement now.

Q:    Which were thatched, you mean, that’s thatched, is it?

Mrs I:    No, after this, just on, that would be the house, wouldn’t it, the business house, then there were two thatched cottages.

Q:    Oh, I see, in Chalks Road, were they, oh, I didn’t know [behind 54 Church Street]?

Mrs I:    In Chalks Road, now it’s just a garden isn’t it?

Q:    That’s right, I didn’t know they were there.

Mrs I:    Yes. I always remember, it was on a Good Friday.

Q:    That they pulled the cottages down?

Mrs I:    Yes, started on a Good Friday.

Q:    Did Mr Hasler live there, or somebody else, in the cottages?

Mrs I:    Oh no. Oh yes, his mother. Again, that I told you, mother, and then you see Mr Hasler was with his crutches, you know, he was paralysed. You see and I always remember they would have huge stacks of dates, now you never see them like that, do you, and they used to have a huge fork. And they used to have brawn, and sausages, it was a lovely little pork shop. Now we’ve got nothing, have we?

Q:    No.

Mrs I:    Oh, it really was, that was really a nice shop.

Q:    So when you, did you start collecting the rents, you would collect them every week, presumably, when you were collecting the rents?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, you dare not ….?

Q:    Did you start that straight after school?

Mrs I:    Oh no. I was older.

Q:    No, you tried the dressmaking, you said?

Mrs I:    Yes, that’s right, yes. Oh, but you couldn’t do the ….

Q:    What else did you do, you didn’t like dressmaking?

Mrs I:    You couldn’t do this, no, I went into the shop, you see, that was the beginning [48 Church Street].

Q:    Oh, I see, after the dressmaking?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    Oh, I see, and that’s how you got to know them?

Mrs I:    Oh, yes, that was a good time, that was, with the baker boys. ‘Cos the baker boys, you see, they boarded in. You see, ‘cos they get up, don’t you, four o’clock in the morning, to do the bread. Then you’ve got to take it out, deliver it. It was a beautiful place.

Q:    What was your job, then?

Mrs I:    In the shop, used to help. Oh, and your poor hands. Oh, they used to take them out of the oven. Course, you, oh, it was terrible.

Q:    What, hot was it?

Mrs I:    Yes. And then sometimes they would go in the water butt, that was quite all right because of course they’d got the horses to eat it.

Q:    [laughs] Yes.

Mrs I:    Oh, I had some good times, there.

Q:    So you had to be there when, you had to be there early as well, did you, to help?

Mrs I:    Oh, yes, oh yes, you’d have to do it. Oh, and the brawn, and the different things there’d be on the back. And then, this, see, now Freda’s mother [Griggs] did this, that was the business [48 Church Street], and this was the store house [46 Church Street].

Q:    Oh, on the right of the shop there?

Mrs I:    Yes. There was only Mrs Richardson’s next to this one, that was a house [44 Church Street]. Oh, my dear, that used to be, filled with wasps, ‘cos we used to keep vinegar, and treacle, you know, the golden syrup, but we say treacle. And that was, that was Freda’s mother that did this, she was a businesswoman. She did that cottage up, that store place up, after the soldiers left, and let it as a cottage.

Q:    Oh, I see?

Mrs I:    We made a bit of fuss about it, but after, and, she was living in the business, and the cottage for ten shillings a week, and we had to go to the agent, you see.

Q:    Yes. Where did you live when you worked there?

Mrs I:    In my house.

Q:    When you, was it when you first left school?

Mrs I:    No, when I came, this is in my, in my married time.

Q:    Yes, so I mean, when you worked there, did you live at the shop as well?

Mrs I:    Oh yes.

Q:    I see, yes. ‘Cos of course your grandma had died then, hadn’t she.

Mrs I:    Yes, oh yes. Yes, but then I knew, with the business, through the back way, into Dean House.

Q:    Oh, I see.

Mrs I:    Yes, because, you know, she was a real friend, she knew my sad circumstances, you see [Mrs Wadley].

Q:    So you sort of stayed with them really, until you were married?

Mrs I:    I went, I did, because she lost her husband, you see, and I went into the business. And there were twenty-five houses, that’s what I used to get, and my patience, you couldn’t get, you dare not go, on a Thursday you used to go, because they worked in the maltings. Well, if you didn’t go on the Thursday, the money’d be gone Friday.

Q:    I see, yes.

Mrs I:    You had to go.

Q:    Did you have a job to get it sometimes?

Mrs I:    Oh. Ooh, terrible, I used to say, they used to say ‘Oh, we’ve had boots for the children this week’, and I used to say ‘Well, if you give me one week this week, I’ll put two down in the book’. We helped them. I only spoke to a person this morning, she’s come from London to live at Powershall End, and she said, ‘Oh, meeting you’. She said ‘I’ve come to live in Witham’. And I said ‘Oh, I always remember you Armistice Day’, ‘cos their father was killed in the War, with five little children. And of course she owed six months rent, and you couldn’t get it, ‘cos it was her husband’s debt. Oh, the people, when they look, I could tell you. And even in the grocery, in the bakery business, debts were terrible [hushed].

Q:    Really?

Mrs I:    Oh, it was terrible.

Q:    So, what, you were actually serving in the shop, were you, giving people things.

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    What system did they have if they didn’t want to pay?

Mrs I:    Yes, well I told Mr Pendle when he came, about the bad debts, and I said ‘Be careful, be prepared’. Oh, no.

Q:    So if someone would come into the shop and say ‘I can’t pay this week’, what would you do?

Mrs I:    Well, could you, now, could you, could you let them go without a loaf of bread when they’ve got little children?

Q:    Quite. So it was really up to, it wasn’t, it was up to, you wrote it down somewhere in a book or something?

Mrs I:    Yes, oh, oh, you had, well we used to keep the books, oh, we had the big books, high up, from the business. But some were good, you could tell, you’d get good people. They would say ‘Well when you’re in the business’, they would pay a shilling off if they gave you the rent [probably meaning landlords].

Q:    Yes, I see.

Mrs I:    You know, if they were real good people. Yes, they’d say, ‘Well, I’ll take ….’ And Mr Pendle did that, but he took them to court.

Q:    Really.

Mrs I:    Mm. He said ‘I’m going to have my money’. No, we didn’t do that, we weren’t unkind over that.

Q:    So that was a sort of grocery and a bakery when you were in there?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, yes.

Q:    And the meat as well?

Mrs I:    Oh, everything. Pork, everything. You see, it was all that part. I’m glad I remembered that wasn’t a cottage.

Q:    Yes, that’s interesting.

Mrs I:    Oh, it was, it was a poor street. I’ll tell you. I told you about that young fellow what I go, when I used to go down the entrance, and that was only a shilling a week. People would never think you were right, honestly. And I always remember the rates were eleven and eightpence in the pound.

Q:    I see.

Mrs I:    See, because of course you’d got to put …. And you could not make them see that, you could not make them see that you paid rates, they thought this rent was wonderful. But you’d got to pay your rates.

Q:    Yes, quite, yes.

Mrs I:    And I always remember they were eleven and eightpence in the pound.

Q:    What, so they paid the rates as well?

Mrs I:    Oh, no.

Q:    Or the rate was in with the rent, yes I’m with you.

Mrs I:    Always the rent. [Q: They paid the rent ….] It was four and sixpence, those four in the road, four and sixpence [11-14 Chalks Road?]. Poor old, he was a guard on the railway, and I always remember his was four and ninepence.

Q:    What, at Mrs Richardson’s [44 Church Street]?

Mrs I:    Yes, that’s right, always remember that.

Q:    Did they change at all, the rents, or did they stay the same all the time?

Mrs I:    Stayed all the time, you couldn’t ….

Q:    So were you doing that right up till you were married, then, were you?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, and after. And after.

Q:    A long time then. And after you were married, yes?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, right until she died. Oh yes. Oh, they always remember, because, funny enough, Olive said this morning, she said ‘I always remember you coming to my mother and you said, ‘I don’t know if you realise, now your husband is killed in the War, the bad debts are sealed’. See you couldn’t ….

Q:    No.

Mrs I:    And I know another one old lady, the Woodwards, she kept paying and paying, and I thought that was hardly fair, the others don’t, and I said ‘Oh, I don’t think I should put that shilling on the rent this time, I think you’re good, take it off’. Oh I did, I tried to be good.

Q:    So that was up to you really?

Mrs I:    Oh, I did, well I knew them all.

Q:    So that was quite a responsibility for you, wasn’t it, yes?

Mrs I:    It was a responsibility, but course, Mrs Wadley’d got the money. You see, she’d been the schoolmistress.

Q:    Mrs Wadley had?

Mrs I:    Yes, at the school. Oh, yes, she was good, she’d got the money.

Q:    Where was she, at the Church …. Where was she the schoolmistress?

Mrs I:    No, at, not, it would be the little school that would be Shelley’s, you know that Shelley have got [22 Church Street].

Q:    Oh, the Infants, opposite the Church.

Mrs I:    Oh yes, of course, you’d get, that was a strange school, that was all just one big place, and then the steps all went up.

Q:    Really, one big room?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    What, the steps what, up the middle?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, to go, so you sit like you do, the platform, row after row. Because you see, we had that, we used to go there for Sunday school, and different things, you see, and take the children. It’s been a very interesting place, Church Street.

Q:    It has, really, yes.

Mrs I:    And the Hill, hasn’t it? Oh but it is lovely. But fancy, I can see Kate Say there.

Q:    Isn’t that nice. Well, I’m amazed that you recognised who it is, after all that time.

Mrs I:    But we always called from that corner ‘Little Hell’ [Church Street above Chalks Road]. [Q: I remember you telling me.] They used to drink, and lay in the streets drunk, oh yes.

Q:    Where did she come from?

Mrs I:    Oh, she lived up there somewhere. She was a Peculiars people, I always remember, they were Peculiars [i.e Kate Say].

Q:    Were they?

Mrs I:    I don’t know what chapel they call it now?

Q:    I’ve forgotten.

Mrs I:    Because that’s a new one [Guithavon Valley Evangelical Church]
[The few minutes after this are now at the beginning of side 5, and then after that, continue on side 7]


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