Mrs Edith Raven (nee Turner) was born in 1893, and was interviewed on 23 March 1977, when she lived at 9 Cressing Road, Witham.
For more information about her, see the notes in the People category headed Raven, Mrs Edith, nee Turner.
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: Mrs Raven spoke very slowly and sometimes very precisely, as if she were collecting her thoughts before speaking. I have therefore not put ‘Pause’ in, unless it was exceptionally long. There are also some noisy passages when we were looking for, or at, photos etc., and sometimes where she held the mike in her hand and stroked it !]
Q: You keep things, then. That’s good. So many people throw things away. It seems such a shame, doesn’t it?
Mrs R: Well, I haven’t kept, I haven’t kept half of what I would have kept, really.
Q: Well, no. You can’t always tell what’s going to be interesting, can you really?
[Noises on tape setting up microphone].
Mrs R: In here, …. is a photograph [noise] of my husband’s uncle [noise], and he was a very good [???]. Where is it? There he is, look.
Q: Goodness me, let’s have a look [noise].
Mrs R: [????] bits and pieces [????]
Q: What’s that? The Essex County Chronicle?
Mrs R: Yes, nineteen hundred and ten.
Q: August the twenty sixth nineteen ten. Oh goodness.
Mrs R: Marvellous, really. This has got broken by old age. (Q: Yes.) Lot of them had that to look at, you know.
Q: [Reading] ‘Charles ….’.
Mrs R: Lot of them ….
Q: [Reading] ‘ …. Jasper Raven, twenty seven. Cycling from Witham to Kelvedon’.
Mrs R: He was going down the Roman Catholic hill with his young lady. And a tramp came across the road to pick up a flower. Pushed him over. And they took him home and he died. His doctors were very good to have him nursed all night. He lived till the morning. (Q: Yes.) But he was very popular.
Q: [Reading] ‘Played for Witham Football for ten years.’ (Mrs R: Yes.) ‘Won the match of ….’ [pause] Well, well. [pause] Oh, there’s a bit more – it’s quite a long write-up about him, isn’t it.
Mrs R: Yes. I was looking at the adverts there, where they were advertising for servants, that time of day (Q: Yes. what about it?) And the money wasn’t very much there. And the restrictions on it all. You know?
Q: Yes, quite, yes. It’s often when you keep papers, it’s the other things .(Mrs R: Yes.) that are interesting that you don’t realise are going to be.
Mrs R: I had to go out when I was thirteen. (Q: Did you really?) Yes.
Q: Where did you go to?
Mrs R: I left school on the Friday. And Mother said to me ‘I’ve kept you long enough. Out to service you go on the Monday’. And I went to a place where I had to be up at half past five in the morning. And I had to work until half past ten at night. Because in the afternoons, the lady used to make me and the other girl, there was two us there, go in the garden all the afternoon. So, of course, in the evening, when I’d done the evening meal, we’d got to clean all the silver what we would be doing in the afternoon.
Q: So, what, in the garden, what would you do in the garden, do the gardening?
Mrs R: Oh, gardening, all the weeds and one thing and the other. Got it all to her liking, you know. (Q: Yes.) And I’d be scrubbing that kitchen floor over, ten o’clock at night and that Chipping Hill church would be striking ten.
Q: Where was it that you went to?
Mrs R: Now, there was a people named Cullens lived there then. (Q: Oh.) They kept the seed factory.
Q: Yes, well, that’s funny. ’Cos Mrs Springett worked for some, for the Cullens for a bit, she said.
Mrs R: Yes, yes she did.
Q: Is that the same, is that the same, in the same house in Bramstons? (Mrs R: Yes.) Well, well. [16 Chipping Hill; their seed warehouse backed onto their garden, being at what is now 49 Braintree Road].
Mrs R: Yes, she did. Because, you see, I’m older than Mrs Springett, I think. (Q: I see.) Must be. Because I went there when I was thirteen. (Q: Yes.) And she was very good in regards to feeding you well. She fed you ever so well. But you had to work. There was a great big kitchen stove to, do all over that time of the day, you know. And they kept Jersey cows. (Q: Yes.) And she had all her floors washed in milk. With skimmed milk. Yes. We had the pails full of that, you see.
Q: I’ve never heard of that.
Mrs R: You don’t see that today, do you? (Q: Goodness.) Well, when I was a child we used to be able to go and get a pint of that skimmed milk for a ha’penny. We used to, I used to have to run from Powershall End down to where the Community Centre is now [Spring Lodge, Powershall End]. Have to get our milk there. Then if they were short of milk there, we used to go up to, over the bridge and up the hill and people named Abbotts lived there then, and they’d got a cellar. It’s still there. And the person’d come down the cellar and she’d call up ‘How much do you want?’ See. And we used to get the skimmed milk there [55 Chipping Hill].
Q: Which, I’ve heard, I think I’ve heard people speak of Abbotts. (Mrs R: That’s empty now.) I‘m not sure which one ….
Mrs R: That’s empty. It’s on the hill. On the Chipping Hill.
Q: Oh, on the corner with The Chase?
Mrs R: It’s on the corner as you go down the hill.
Q: Oh, yes, oh, I know.
Mrs R: It’s the last house, as you go.
Q: Where Mrs Ralling (Mrs R: Yes) lived. Yes, of course.
Mrs R: Yes, she, she’s just come out of there.
Q: Well, that was a long way, for, ’cos you said you lived ….
Mrs R: Up in Powershall Road. Near the Victoria. We lived. And, er, I was born there [cottage since demolished, next to what is now 127 Powershall End]. And my father worked on that farm of Philip Hutley’s for fifty six years [Powershall]. (Q: Did he? Well.) [Pause] And he had a very small wage. And I can remember when I lost Mother, Father said to me [pause] ‘Mister Hutley, my boss’, he said ‘and his wife, the family will be coming down to church’. And it appears that Mother had the step done over, and the curtains just cleaned, and the windows all cleaned, purposely on a Sunday morning. And I remember that I had to take Mother’s place once, up at the farm, because she used to have the wives up there. To get together. And she came over to me and she said ‘I must admire you’, she said ‘you do still keep your windows clean. And your doorsteps white’ she said.
Q: (Gasps.) Keeps a watch, eh.
Mrs R: That was the big people of Witham that time of the day.
Q: What, she just had the wives ….?
Mrs R: Just to get together like, with no …. the, workmen’s wives. (Q: Yes) The workmen’s wives.
Q: How often would that be?
Mrs R: Once a year.
Q: I see, and what did you …. What happened?
Mrs R: We just had, cup of tea and cakes, stuff like that. And had a chat, you know. And I took Mother’s place, then. I was only sixteen when Mother died. That’s all. But, er, I remember when I was a child. Like, as children. Mother made us great big aprons, you know? Had big pockets in ’em. And we had to go when the corn was cut, we had to go and pick up the wheat. The farmer allowed us to do that. And we went and picked this wheat up. And when we got it home, we had to clean it all, there hadn’t got to be a speck on it. Not a leaf on it. It was just so clean, if not you’d got to do it over again. We had a strict mother but a very good mother.
Q: How did you, how did you mean, clean it?
Mrs R: They hadn’t got to have nothing on, on the kernel, you see.
Q: I see, yes.
Mrs R: And, er, we’d stack it all up in sacks and Mother’d put that in the bake house, all the summer, after we’d done it, in the autumn, and she baked her – Blyth’s Mills was on the go then [now the old Mill House, Guithavon Valley]. That was working, then. It was very pretty to see Blyth’s Mill working, really, you know. As you went through the meadows. Very pretty. And, we missed that when that stopped. And he’d take all these sacks of wheat down and do it into flour for Mother. And Mother’d stack that, Mother had to pay him, and he’d take one sack of flour. And Mother’d stack that all the way round the bake house, and that was her flour for the winter. And she used to bake once a week. No, once in three weeks, she baked. That’s right. And when she did bake she baked a batch of ‘pats’. And these ‘pats’, she’d say to us children – wasn’t many cottages in that row at that time of the day. And she’d say to us children ‘You take that to so-and-so, and so-and-so’. There’d be one for each child. ‘And tell them to put a piece of butter on it and have it hot for their tea’. You don’t get that co-operation today. (Q: No.) See. Very, very nice I thought it was. I had a, a friend of mine come in, she’s ninety one. It’s a little while back, before she was taken ill, and she said ‘I shall always remember your mother, dear.’ I said ‘Oh, will you?’ And she said ‘Yes’ she said. ‘Father used to ….’ They kept the Victoria, that time of day (Q: Oh) .She said ‘Father’d say, “I don’t want anything for my tea tonight, Harriet will be baking and I’ll have me hot pat for me tea”’. (Q: laughs.) You don’t see that today (Q: No.) And Mother’d make a whole batch of different cakes, strip cakes – you don‘t see that today, you know. (Q: No) And, er, that used to last us all the winter. She never, you see Father didn’t earn the money, then.
Q: No. She had a separate bake house, did she?
Mrs R: Well, they had the one bake house between the road. And Mother was the only one that used it. (Q: Really?) The others didn’t know the way how, I don‘t think. Or they didn’t do it, any rate.
Q: Was it near your house, then?
Mrs R: Yes. Our house stood where those garages are now [next to 127 Powershall End]. I’ve got a photograph of it, I’ll show it to you (Q: Oh, thanks) And, we were, what, about three doors, three cottages off, I think. (Q: I see.) Which was very nice, you know? And, er, Mother used, Father used to have a pig sometime, and we’d, used to get down to Greatrex’s down here in Chipping Hill [10 Church Street] and he used to slaughter it for him. And Mother’d always have, something in the pan. If anybody come in you knew she could do a meal. I doubt if any of us could do it today, you know.
Q: No, no. Can I get something for you?
Mrs R: I’m just looking at these photographs. They’re just here, dear.
[Pause – noise of papers shuffling on tape]
Mrs R: Well, when I lost Mother, we hadn’t got much, I didn’t get much money then, you see, ’cos I was young then. And, er, to get my clothes, Father couldn’t earn enough money to give me money for my clothes. To get my clothes, I said, ‘Well, I’ll have to go out and do some work’. Well, I went ‘spudding’ for some time. Then I went and gathered up the stones. Now I’ll tell you a field that I gathered the stones in. There’s a big field, I should imagine that’s quite three quarters of a mile long, ‘cos that’s from the Victoria to the farm [i.e to Powershall]. (Q: Goodness, yes.) And, um, that took me a week. To pick up these stones. And I’d got to lay them right opposite in a heap to the gate, so the tumbril could come in, you see, and pick them up. And they’d have a mark on the top of that tumbril where the stones had got go just so far. Two shillings. It took me a week. (Q: tuts.) They wouldn’t do it today, would they? (Sighs)
Q: Two shillings for the ….
Mrs R: That took me a week. To pick up that load of stones and the, Mr Hutley give me two shillings. I thought it was a hard earned two shillings.
Q: It was, wasn’t it? Did you think it was then? Or did you ….?
Mrs R: No, we took it as a matter of course, you see, dear.
Q: You took it for granted then, perhaps.
Mrs R: We thought two shillings was a lot of money then, you see. Well, it was in our time, you see. Because Father didn’t earn ….
Q: What did your father get, or didn’t you know?
Mrs R: He was a ploughman, and, he was with the horses and carts. I …. horse and plough. I’ve got a photograph of him here, you see.
Q: Oh yes.
Mrs R: There he is, there. That’s a, that’s a better one of him there, really [showing photographs: see pictures 1 and 2, John Turner].
Q: Yes. That’s lovely, isn’t it. Well, it looks lovely, but I expect it was hard work, wasn’t it.
Mrs R: It was hard work, yes. Some mornings he‘d have to be up about four o’clock in the morning because of the horses. (Q: Yes) And he wouldn’t finish until nearly five at night. Perhaps half past five. (Q: Really?) Then if the horses got out, and he knew they were out, he’d have to get up in the night and get them all back again.
Q: So it was his job to take care of the horses (Mrs R: Yes, yes) was it? Yes.
Mrs R: He was a horseman, you see (Q: Yes.) Well, many and many a time when he was drilling the fields, as a baby, he’d put me in the drilling box and take me up and down the field. (Q: Really. [laughs]) So Mother could get on, you know. (Q: Yes.) Which made that nice, you know, for Mother really.(Q: Yes.) They were lovely old days, really. We’ll never see those days again (Q: No) I know we were hard up but we were never hungry. (Q: No?) Father grew all his vegetables and we had plenty of vegetables. Had rows and rows of celery all the winter, for tea, Sunday nights and any other night. The other nights we had hot dinners. Hot suppers they used to call it, you know. (Q: Mm.) I, I must tell you this little bit about the hot supper business. My mother said to me, I, she wanted me to go down to Doole’s shop. (Q: Yes) And that was the first shop that we got to, from our way, and it was on the hill [45 Chipping Hill].
Q: Doole was it? Yes.
Mrs R: Yes. Mr & Mrs Doole kept it that time of the day. She said ‘I want a pound of beans’, and she said ‘They’ll be sixpence’. Well, sixpence was a lot of money at that time of the day. So I goes down, only a little toddler, after these beans. So Mrs Doole said ‘They’ll be five pence ha’penny, dear’. So, childlike, I thought oh, I’d like, I’d like a few sweets with that odd ha’penny, ’cos you could get a few sweets that time of day with a ha’penny. So, of course, I gets these sweets. When I get home, Mother said, very very sharp ‘They are not the beans I told you to get. You take them back’. So, way I had to go back with these beans.
Q: What, you mean they were the wrong sort, were they?
Mrs R: Yes, and I was praying all the way down that wall, that somebody’d give me a ha’penny. But they didn’t. So I took these beans back and I said, Mrs Doole said they’d be ‘Another ha’penny, dear’, so I said ‘Well, may I bring that in the morning?’ Because she knew us, you see, so she said ‘Yes, dear, on your way to school’. So when I got, I could see Father coming off that garden field where those houses are now. Up that hill, you know? You know where the Community …. ? [garden field was allotments where Saxon Drive now is].
Q: Oh, I think I know, yes. Where the allotments were, yes.
Mrs R: Yes. They were the allotments. Well, we had forty rod on there.
Q: That’s opposite the Community Centre you mean. (Mrs R: Yes) Yes.
Mrs R: And I had to work the same as the boys on there. Yes. I had to do the garden just the same as the boys. I could see Father coming off that allotment. So I crept up by the wall and got home before he did. So, Mother said to me ‘What are you snivelling for?’ I said ‘I spent that ha’penny’. ‘You go up that stairs,’ she says. ‘To bed. No supper for you tonight’. They’d got their favourite supper, I shall never forget it. They’d got suet pudding and liver. [Mrs R & Q laugh]. Because, that was my favourite supper. (Q: Oh dear.) So Father came in and he said ‘Where is Edith?’. She said ‘Upstairs, to bed’. Father said ‘What’s she been doing?’ So she said ‘She spent a ha‘penny of my money’. ‘Well’, he said ‘it’s a good thing she’s gone up there, or she‘d have had my belt’. See, I knew that. But, my brother, he was a little older than me, he come crawling up the, up the stairs, during the evening and he said ‘I couldn’t get a piece of suet pudding and liver, dear, but I got you a piece of bread and cheese!’ [Mrs R & Q laugh]. Oh, oh, that was fun, really, you know, when you look back at it, you know. Any rate, dear, I got out of that. [Mrs R laughs]. As I got married, I told my husband this. And, er, one day, after he retired, one Thursday, he was going over the bridge, and a little girl came up to him and she said ‘Have you got thruppence?’ He said ‘I don’t know, I’ll look’, he said. ‘Did you want thruppence?’ She said ‘Yes, I do,’ she said ‘and I can’t find my money’. So, any rate, he thought of me with my ha’penny, you see. (Q: Yes.) So he gives her thruppence. So the next week he goes down, he’d look in every Thursday, to Mr Hannar’s, in Braintree Road [probably 13 Braintree Road]. Two little girls came in the shop. So he said ‘Just give them a piece of chocolate, Jackie, will you?’ he said. ‘I’ll pay for it’. So he gave them a piece of chocolate. The little one’s come back and said ‘Mr Hannar, are you giving that chocolate away, ’cos my sister would like a piece’. [Mrs R and Q laugh]. That was two Thursdays, he lost his thruppence. Well, on the third Thursday, he went in and he dropped an egg. So he said to Mr Hannah, ‘I’ll clear that up, Jackie’. So Mrs Karl Richardson stood in the shop, she said ‘Oh, no you don’t, Mr Raven, I got a [bowl ?] in my car’. That was another thruppence he was out. [Mrs R laughs]. All because of my ha’penny. [Mrs R & Q laugh]. Wonderful, really, how things come out, isn’t it?. Really. [pause]
Q: How many, tell me, how many brothers and sisters did you say you had?
Mrs R: I had (Q: You talked of your brother who came up ….) I had six brothers, I’ve lost all them. And there was two girls. Six brothers I had, and there’s, there was two girls. I’ve lost all them. I’m the only one now left.
Q: So, what, what did the brothers do, when they grew up, most of them.
Mrs R: Well, one of them went to Australia. I still correspond with his daughter and his granddaughter. And her children. Matter of fact, there’s one of them up there now, on the mantelpiece. And he never came back. He went and he never came back.
Q: When, how old was he when he went?
Mrs R: Very very young. I was thirteen when he went. (Q: I see.) Very young. But his daughter writes very nice letters and they send me the photographs of all of them, you know. And they did, um, phone us up from Australia for ten minutes. That was lovely to hear all of them, you know. Really. But I think, really, that really, did kill Mother. (Q: What? Him going?) Because she, she thought the world of him, you see. And she didn’t want him to go. But the thing was, you see, dear, I suppose, when he got out there, he had a hard time. He didn’t write back to Mother. (Q: No.) And I, after I lost Mother I got hold of the Police to find him. And that’s how I came to get him, you know. I can always remember him going. I was only thirteen when he went. (Q: Yes.) That’s some years, isn’t it, really?
Q: Did he go, sort of on the (Mrs R. Yes) sort of out of the blue (Mrs R: I, I) to see what was ….?
Mrs R: I suppose really, dear, he had to do a lot of work for the Government, you see, because, the Government would have paid for his fare out there, that time of the day. (Q: Yes, I see, yes.) Because they wouldn’t be rich enough to have any money (Q: No) to go out there, not that time of the day, you know.(Q: No, quite.) Because they didn’t earn the money that time of the day.
Q: And what were your other brothers ….?
Mrs R: Well, they were very, one of them went on the water. On the P and O liners. And, er, this is a good few years now. And then he went into Jerkins[?] and he retired there. Well, I’ve just got his son and his daughter. They’ve done their time there and they’ve just retired there. But the son has got multiple sclerosis, and his very, very …. His wife pulls him in a wheelchair. And last time she brought him, he couldn’t even feed himself. (Q: No.) And now he’s in Ormond Street. I phone them up nearly every morning to know how he is, you know? So they did very well. And the oldest one, he was in, um, he lived, he went to Canning Town and he was in some works in there. And that was the two of them. Then, er, this boy went to Australia, and the other one, he got killed at Hatfield Peverel, unfortunately. And, er, Mr Gaymer knocked him down and killed him, I think, my brother must have thought it was two cyclists coming along and he went across the road and he hit him.
Q: What was the, in a car, you mean ? Or….?
Mrs R: He was in a car. (Q: A car.) Mr Gaymer was in a car, you see. My brother was going across the road. That was, where the restaurant, there, at one time. Just as you left The Duke, and come down that way. There was a restaurant over that side. Well, he’d just been over that restaurant, and he came across the road. And I think he must have thought that it was two bicycles coming along. Because the car was on to him before he knew where he was. And, er, my youngest, my youngest brother, I had another brother, and he, when he left school he went and worked for the Reverend Galpin at Faulkbourne Hall. He, Reverend Galpin was very good to him. Well, I was left, Mother left us, you see, with those two boys to look after. And he went to war and I lost him in the War, that one.[prob 1st but can’t find in records] And the youngest one, he lived in that little cottage. At the top of that wall, when he married. (Q: I see.) Father had a bungalow built after he retired. And that’s er, near that roundabout [probably 7 Powershall End, next to the lane to Faulkbourne, nearly opposite Highfields Road] (Q: I see, yes.) It‘s got a lot of trees all round it. But he died. He married again, and now she’s died. So that left this boy. He married and he lived in that little bungalow. And that’s never been lived in, only by one person since he came out of it. No, two people. Since he came out of there. And he was a healthy strong boy and he worked for Mr Everett. Mr Everett kept the milk place down the, the milk place down the bottom there. Near where the Community Centre is. Well, I think Mrs Brown lives there now, if I remember right [Spring Lodge, 3 Powershall End]. (Q: I see.) And that was where this milk business was. (Q: I see, yes) And Mr Everett thought the world of this boy of ours. And I think from what Mr Everett told me, that when he thought about retiring he would get this boy to take it over. Well, he was a healthy strong boy and he went out in the milk float on this particular morning, and there was a thunderstorm. And he got soaking wet through. And, er, ten days and he was gone. And he left two children. Two boys. They’re happily married. One is up in Yorkshire and one is at Maldon, I think, Gordon lives now. Well, that cottage, that bungalow is really an unlucky bungalow. I had a cousin live there, the first I knew about this bungalow. It’s a very nice little bungalow, really, they had a room built on the back of that. And, er, she lost her baby there. Then, er, my brother went in there. He lost his life there.
[Telephone rings Q: I’ll turn it off].
[Tape switched on]
Q: White Hall College , somebody ment … I remember reading about …. [???] (Mrs R: Yes) Anyway, you were telling me about …. What did your sisters do? Did they go into service, too? Or ….?
Mrs R: Yes, she did go into service. I tell you who she worked for. She worked for Gerald Bright’s mother and father. On the Maldon Hill. Well, when we lost Mother, she left there and she went to London. And, er, she married there. And she went to work for a person named Mr and Mrs Angel. Now, Mr and Mrs Angel lived in 68 Prince’s Square, Bayswater, which is a very nice place. Well, she nursed all those. She’d got a son that wasn’t quite bright and she looked after him. And she nursed the old folks till they died. So my sister kept in that house. She didn’t die in the house but she more or less said, you might as well say she did, because she was taken there and then. And she had a son. But she had three tragedies in her life. She, er, went to Italy for a holiday with her husband, and she came back. And that time of the day the servants were in the house, you see. And she went down. He went into the cloakroom to get his clothes to go to the office. And she went down into the kitchen to give the girls their orders. And she heard a groan and she went up the top of the stairs and, and he was dead. In the cloakroom. So that was a big shock for her. They’d just come back from a holiday, they were laughing and talking over the breakfast table about the good time they’d had. Well, she had a son, he was a very nice boy, and er, she sent them all to Oxford, the girls and all. And he had a son and two daughters, well she sent him to Oxford. I had got a paper upstairs with his photo in and her photo in, and he was a lieutenant in the Air Force. And, er, he was a very clever boy. He passed all out as a barrister and one thing and another. And er, he went out to supper, he was, they were invited out to supper. And he came home, and he said to Olga, he said ‘I don’t think, dear, I’m going to get a very good night’. She said ‘Well I think I’ll go and get you a little drop of brandy’, she said, and, er, she did. She took him up a little drop of brandy and when she come back he was dead.
Well, Margaret brought up a boy, that really her husband’s mother and father brought up as a boy, so when they’d be retired, there was a home there for him with her and her husband. Well he was a very very nice man. And he was sitting looking at the television, at football, she said ‘Well, I think I’ll go on the ‘phone while you’re looking at the television’. When she came back, he was dead. (Q: tuts.) So you see, dear, she had three tragedies. (Q: Yes.) I used to go up every September, while her companion was away. And, er, stop with her, whilst she was away during September. I used to enjoy being up there, really, you know. And that made a nice change for me. After ….
Q: Well, that was when you were young, you mean? Or later on?
Mrs R: No, after, after I lost my husband.
Q: Yes. When was that?
Mrs R: I lost hubby, I think it was the twelfth of December. The actual, eight years? Just. Eight years last December. So I’ve been on my own all that time.
Q: What did he used to do?
Mrs R: He was a baker. At Palmer’s. Palmer kept a bake house there. In High Street, where, what’s the name of it? (Q: Gilbert’s, is it?.) Gilbert, Gilbert is [83 Newland Street]. And he did eight hours a day for a pound a week.(Q: gasps.) He used to go out here half past five in the morning, sometimes five o’clock. He’d come home to breakfast, he’d cycle home to breakfast. He used to cycle back and he’d cycle over again to dinner. And he’d cycle back. And he’d cycle home to tea. And at nine o’clock he’d go down and do the doughs. They had to do them by hand that time of the day, you see. Pound a week. They wouldn’t do it today, would they? (Q: No.) And I’d got three children to keep. On that pound a week. And I was looking in the books today, in the rent books today, and er, I paid eight and sixpence rent. Here, when I first came up here, eighty two years ago. And I see that that made it into eleven shillings a week with the rates. (Q: I see.)
Mrs R: …. [When he [her husband] came back from the First World] War, the first week he was home, Miss Perry came in, she said ‘Edith,’ she said, ‘I’ve got a cottage empty, would you like to have it?’ Well, then Mrs Cutts took the fish shop at that time of the day, up the town [29 Newland Street; moved later to 33]. And she said, um, she came that day and she said ‘Edith, I’ve got my little cottage empty, if you want it’. I thought, been two years, trying to get a house, but Granny Raven and Uncle and Grandad Raven were very very good. They gave me a lovely home [in Maldon Road, since demolished, where 30 Maldon Road is now], because my father had been married again, then, when I had my first baby. And, but they were, they were splendid mothers and fathers, they really were. And, er, we picked the one down Mill Lane [probably on east side, on a site later housing the bungalow, Little Orchards, just north of 36 Mill Lane]. Well, I had a very big job with that house, really. Because that wasn’t in a very good state. So I got all the plasters off the walls. I scraped it right down to the woodwork. And I went to a man named, up the town, Mr Porter. And I told him, I said ‘I haven’t seen anything, but I understand there is, in this house’ I said. ‘I’ve got all new stuff that I’ve had to work hard for’. He said ‘All right’ he said, ‘I’ll see you don’t get nothing in there’. So he put a pail full of sulphur in there, and I never did see one. (Q: murmurs.) There. (Q: Yes.)
I gradually went out to work, in the fields, and got a piece of furniture, a bit by bit. At the time my husband got home. And that, Coker and Rice his name was, in the town [probably 67 Newland Street]. He stored it for me. He didn’t charge me for storage. And by the time my husband came home I’d got a nice little home ready, you see. (Q: Yes.) So I was, that way. I had to go out and work hard to get that, you know. (Q: Yes.) Pea-picking and potato-ing and spudding and one thing and another. And, er, there was a Miss Pattisson lived in Collingwood Road. She had that house built next door to the Club [Alice Pattisson; at Pelican Cottage, 16 Collingwood Road, built 1904; the Constitutional Club at 14 Collingwood Road was built 1910]. (Q: I know, yes.) And, Doctor Foster’s in it now [actually he was at 18]. Well, she’d got an invalided sister always wheeled herself in a wheelchair [Ella Pattisson]. Now they were very big church workers. And they were very very good. And, she came to me. She said ‘I’m without a cook, dear. Will you come?’. I said ‘I’ve got a baby’. So she said, er ‘Oh well, don’t worry’ she said. ‘Bring the baby as well’. I said ‘You sure that’ll be all right?’ She said ‘Yes, of course,’ she said. Her sister, in this wheelchair, would wheel down the garden if he’d made a noise, you see. I’d get up and bath him before they were up, you see. And, she was very very good to my oldest boy when he was born. And that was through her, I think, that I got this house, and the doctors [i.e. 9 Cressing Road]. Because I lost a baby down there [at the house in Mill Lane]. And they said ‘No, you can’t have any more children here’. That wasn’t – inside the little cottage was beautiful, that was lovely and bright. But it wasn’t all that wonderful down there.
Q: Is that still there, that cottage?
Mrs R: No, they pulled that down, and they built a bungalow, just where that is. Miss, Mrs Wakelin, I understood, I understand, did have that built there [probably on east side, on a site later housing the bungalow, Little Orchards, just north of 36 Mill Lane]. The tan yard was there at that time of the day [west side of Mill Lane, now a grass space]. (Q: Oh I know where you mean, yes.) You see. You get a nasty lot of smells from there. We’d see all the tan yard people going there to work. Well I had six years down there. And then I came up here. And that’s how I got this house [9 Cressing Road]. I think Miss Pattisson must have put in a word for us, you see. Because of the babies, you know [Alice Pattisson was a councillor].
Q: So you married, did you marry before the War or ….
Mrs R: I married during the War.
Q: During the War.
Mrs R: Yes, I married during the War.
Q: How did you meet your husband, then? (Mrs R: Well, dear ….) Was he a Witham person?
Mrs R: Yes. He came round with the bread. (Q: Ah. [both laugh]) And that’s how I met him. And, er he had to go to War while I, I was working for Mrs Nelthorpe at that time of the day, I was in service there then. Well, Mrs Nelthorpe lived, there used to be The George. You know where The George is, don’t you? Then there used to be a photographer. And then Mrs Nelthorpe’s. [the George is 36 Newland Street, the photographer (Bull) was at 34 Newland Street, and Mrs Nelthorpe at 32 Newland Street] (Q: I see.) Well that time of the day old Captain Abrey was alive [Shafto Abrey]. He was a good old man, really. He’d come in every morning. And he’d say to Mrs Nelthorpe ‘Morning, Fanny’. And he’d come down the hall, ‘Good morning Edith’. And he often slipped a shilling in a person’s hand. Now Grandfather would be sweeping the roads, he often slipped him one. And Gran-, I’ve heard Grandfather say he’s slipped many a shilling in different hands, like that, you know. (Q: Yes.) So he was a good old man, really, and he lived in that house – you know where Dorothy Sayers is? (Q: Mmm.) Well he lived in this end one [26 Newland Street]. (Q: Oh. I know, yes.) (Pause) Lovely memories, you know, of that time of the day.
Q: So, would you, so you’d be the only servant in that house, then, would you?
Mrs R: Yes, I was the only servant ….
Q: So what sort of things would you have to do there?
Mrs R: I had to do everything. Mrs Nelthorpe was on her own, and she was getting on, you know. Now I’m going to tell you .…
Q: Did you sleep, did you live in there, or … .?
Mrs R: I lived right in, there. Oh yes. I lived in everywhere I went.(Q: Did you?) Yes. Well, I was going to tell you, when I went there, at that time of the day, dear, people were very very poor. They didn’t get much money and Mrs Nelthorpe, and Mrs Percy Brown, she lived in that house in Collingwood Road, what they’ve got flats in now. (Q: Mmm.) You know the house I mean? Near the market.
Q: Is it called, Collingwood House [15 Collingwood Road] ?
Mrs R: Yes, Collingwood House. (Q: Yes, yes.) She’s got a daughter, Mrs Coleman, lives round by The Avenue [Marjorie Coleman]. (Q: Mmm.) Well, Mrs Percy Brown and Mrs Nelthorpe were very very big workers in Witham. In the Church, and for the poor people. And I look back, and when I went there, I understood that Mrs Nelthorpe was doing what they called ‘the bag’, that time of the day. Well, in this bag, there was everything that a baby wanted for a confinement. (Q: Oh, really.) And they had that for a month. The poor people that couldn’t afford these babies’ clothes. And they had a voucher for groceries and a voucher for milk and a voucher for coal. In this bag. And they kept that for a month. And they’d have to wash that, and send that back. (Q: Oh.) So when I got there, I said to Mrs Nelthorpe ‘I wonder if my mother had that?’. Because I knew she hadn’t got any money, bless her. Spotlessly clean these old people but they were poor. So she looked up. So she said ‘Edith Turner’. So I said ‘Yes. That’s right, that’s me then’. So I said ‘Mother did have it, then’. (Both laugh.)
Q: So who would arrange, would that be through the church, Or …. ? (Mrs R: Well, these,) Or who’d arrange it?
Mrs R: These church workers, you see. (Q: Yes.) Mrs Percy Brown and Mrs Nelthorpe really did do a lot of work.
Q: So the bag would be …. something to do with the church, yes.
Mrs R: Yes. They’d have to keep, wash it well, and send it back just as they’d had it. (Q: Yes.) But they’d have this, you know. And I remember when I was at Mrs Nelthorpe’s there was a person named Mrs Peirce, she lived up Church Street, and Mrs Nelthorpe thought she was very poor, I suppose. Thought she wasn’t – didn’t have nothing, so she sent me up there with a hot dinner, one day. (Q: Oh.) And I had to take this bag, you know. Now those old folks are dead and gone. You don’t hear nothing like that today, do you? They’re too well off today, aren‘t they? (Q: Yes.) When you think of it, aren’t they? [Pause] But they did work very very hard. And there was another, another one, I haven’t got the photograph, now, Miss Ottley had it, up the road here, and she didn’t return it. And I belonged to the Mothers Union at this time of the day and in the hall, in the porch of the church, there was old Granny Mortimer, this Mrs Percy Brown. And Mrs Newman, Mrs Johnnie Newman, she lived up Bridge Street, her husband kept the dairy there, and she was another big church worker. And there was a lovely little photograph of them in the porch, Mothers Union. And I kept that for a good many years and they came along and saw it and they wanted it. Now, there was something else I as going to tell you. No, that’s gone now.
Q: Oh, it’ll come back (Mrs R: Yes.) So, what, the poor people, did they live in, sort of all over the town, do you think? Or were there special parts of the town parts where ….?
Mrs R: They were all very poor, all very poor, dear. (Q: Poor, yes.) But I must say, the food they had was good, and substantial, you know. The men used to do all the gardens, you see. (Q: Mmm.) You never wanted for vegetables. Never.
Q: So were there poorer than your family, even, do you think? (Mrs R: Some of them.) Or would you count yourself as …. ?
Mrs R: Some of them were poorer than we were. (Q: Yes.) Much poorer than what we were. Er, Father did work hard for us. And Mother worked as much as she could, you see. Oh, we had to go out pea picking as soon as the child- (Q: Your mother went out?) Yes, yes, pea picking.
Q: Yes. What used to happen then?
Mrs R: She didn’t go out sort of, like I did, working in the houses, you know, no. She was in service when my father met her. She was in service for a person up that yard, The Chase, where Park View is [Kings Chase]. They used to make the candles up there. (Q: Yes?) Wax candles, up there, yes, in my young days. (Q: That was when you were young, was it?) My young days, yes, they made wax candles up there. Well, Mother worked for a person along of there. That’s how Father met her. She was a Kelvedon person. All her folks, nearly all her folks lay in Kelvedon churchyard.
Q: What was her name? Before she was married.
Mrs R: Er – [Pause]. I don’t know what her maiden name was [probably Cranmer]. I don’t know what, I don’t know her family at all. (Q: No.) But I have had them come to me and say, ‘I’m a cousin of yours. (Q: Really. [laughs]) Yes.’
Q: So you spoke of your grandfather and grandmother. They were your father’s (Mrs R: Yes) people, were they? (Mrs R: Yes.) And they lived in Witham, the two of them? Earlier on?
Mrs R: They, they lived opposite to where Father did. Now, Mr Johnson and his wife live there now [Probably 90 Powershall End]. But we used to go up that slope, and there was three cottages along of there. And Granny lived there. Until she lost Grandfather. Then she got a little tiny cottage, down where the Community Centre is [see picture 2 with tape 13]. And as I came out of school I had to run up there dinnertimes, to see her, see if she was all right. And, and run again at night, if it was harvesting time. ‘Cos Grandfather’d be working in the harvesting, you see. They worked very very long hours, in the harvesting. (Q: Mmm.) [Pause] And she was, quite a nice old lady. I can always remember her making parsnip wine. You know. She made a lot of that, and she was so clean and so nice, you know? Which was very nice, really, for her age, you know? And there was a Mrs Springett, and I know her daughter, still lives in this cottage, down the bottom of the bridge [6 Powershall End].
Q: Oh, I know. (Mrs R: You know?) That’s the first one as you go over?
Mrs R: Yes. And she’s got her brother looking after her? Eva [Eva Springett and Douglas Springett].
Q: I’ve never met them, they ….
Mrs R: Well, Eva, (Q: They must have been there a long time) and my sister and this friend who lived at The Cherry Tree, and another one that lived nearly next door to us, a French, they all were brought up together, all more or less the same ages. There’s a Miss Wiffen up there, up Powershall End, she’s still alive. Well, where Miss Wiffen lives, right opposite to there, there used to be three houses, just along that way [probably at right angles to the road]. Now there’s one like that, where Johnson lives [Miss Wiffen at 88 Powershall End and Johnson at 90 Powershall End]. They had a big well at the bottom there. That was a forty gallon well. (Q: Really?) Ours was a thirty gallon well. We didn’t have no water indoors. (Q: I see) We had to go out for our water. (Q: Yes.) We had to go right round the garden for the water. We had a well there. Well then, I think that somehow got too much. They put a tap on it. So we had a tap. We didn’t have no sewage, you know, then. (Q: No.) Oh, no. We had to live that sort of life, you know.
Q: Was the well shared, with the neighbours? Or …. How many people (Mrs R: No, no.) used the well? Or did they ….?
Mrs R: That one wasn’t shared. We had that one on our own and next door had one on their …. (Q: I see.) But when I first married, down Mill Lane, I had to share one. That was the drawback there, I didn’t like that much, the sharing.
Q: Before they put the tap on, how would you get the water out? You just, um.
Mrs R: Dip down the pail.
Q: Put a pail down? (Mrs R: Yes.) On a rope, or something?
Mrs R: Yes, on a rope. You had to do that. (Q: Yes.) Then, eventually, they put a tap there. (Q: Yes.) Where they’ve built their houses, you know, where our garages were. Where they’ve built those houses, they’ve, um, our, our – (Q: You were showing me ….] chickens and that used to be on there. That’s Father. Now you see that place there. (Q: Yes.) Don‘t you. That’s down Maldon Road and that is where, the dentist has got his there now [showing photograph: discussed more on tape 13 so for copy see file ‘tape 13, pictures, documents etc’].
Q: Goodness, Oh, I’ve never seen that place.
Mrs R: Now what’s his name?
Q: There’s a new building in there. Where the dentist is (Mrs R: Yes) Yes.
Mrs R: What’s his name, I can’t think of his name. Is a dentist there.
Q: I know who you mean, but I don’t know when, I can’t remember the name. Yes.
Mrs R: I can’t think of his name [probably Robson, at 30 Maldon Road].
Q: So is that …. ?
Mrs R: And that’s where my husband was born, there. (Q: Oh, I see.) That’s where my first boy was born. (Q: Oh.) That’s Granny, there. And there’s another granddaughter of hers, there. Well, a great grandchild.
Q: So you lived there at first …. ?
Mrs R: I lived there two years with Granny, while my husband was away in the War.
Q: Well I’ve never seen a picture of that before. [Laughs]
Mrs R: No, I don’t know if you’ve seen this picture, either [showing photograph: see picture 3: Newland Street]. Now my husband’s on here. And he’s got his uncle holding his hands and he’s there, he’s quite a little tiny tot. (Q: Is that him, really?) Yes. (Q: Goodness.) That’s, that’s High Street. (Q: Oh yes.) Witham. [Q: laughs] See.
[Probably looking at and describing photographs – therefore conversation disjointed]
Q: So that’s him just right in, sort of …. yes. (Mrs R: See) Yes, I’m with you. That’s him with the little (Mrs R: Yes) sort of dress on (Mrs R: You see.. ) To the left of that cart, there. Yes. [i.e. left of cart which is left of London House, two figures]
Mrs R: You see how the girls are dressed there. We had pinafores all the time. (Q: Yes.) See, little straw hats. (Q: Mmm.) All the summer time. We had to wear these pinafores, you can see they’ve got their pinafores on there, some of them. (Q: Oh yes, that’s right.) And there’s the old chimney sweep here somewhere. (Q: Yes.) I think the clock, is it the clock on this side?
Q: Um, it’s in there. It’s on, I think that’s it behind the telegraph pole. So that must have been before (Mrs R: Yes, before) the fire, wasn’t it? (Mrs R: Before that was moved over.) [i.e. before the Constitutional Club fire of 1910]. I think that’s probably it just there, don’t you? [Pause]
Mrs R: I shouldn’t have thought that’d been over there that time of the day.
Q: I wonder.
Mrs R: No I just got [???]
Q: Well, probably it’s a bit hard to see – you can’t see actually (Mrs R: No:) the place where it is on this side (Mrs R: No), can you? Which is the sweep, you say, then? You reckon?
Mrs R: He’d got a horse and cart, here, look. (Q: Oh I see.) Got a sweep there. You see how they were dressed that time of the day? (Q: Yes.) We always wore the pinafores, look. See.
Q: What would you do for clothes? Did they, um ….?
Mrs R: Well, I’ll tell what we did. (Q: If you wanted something, when you were little.) with clothes. Um, the gentry of Witham, really, were very good to us. They’d often send Mother along some clothes and Mother was very good, she made them up, you know. (Q: Yes.) And I’ll tell you what I had to do as a child. Snow, or fine, rain or hail, you had to go across those fields against the Victoria and you’d come right out there on to Hatfield Road. (Q: Oh I know, yes.)
Mrs R: They’ve built a lot of houses, they tell me, there now. (Q: Yes.) I think they’ve built right through to there to Blunts Hall Road. Well, we had to go round there, and there was a Miss, er, two Miss Luards lived there [at Witham Lodge, Hatfield Road]. Old Admiral Luard was a very wonderful old man, really. He used to come to church in, horse and pair, come, his carriage and his pair. And, er, they were very good these Miss Luards. They’d, every Saturday morning they’d be there and you could go and get a piece of material, sixpence, if you cut it out yourself for, make a shirt. So Mother used to make all the boys’ shirts and all Father’s shirts. Then the piece, there’d be a piece of material, quite a little bit of money, ‘cos you hadn’t got the money, and Mother’d make the trousers. (Q: I see.) And the jackets. See. Mother was very good that way.
Q: What, and you’d go to the, the house?
Mrs R: And we’d go to the house. (Q: Mmm.) And get this. And then, sometimes, she’d give us a tin of soup. (Q: Right.) Or a can of milk (Q: Right.) And probably she’d give us a little fruit. You’d probably have to pay a ha’peny for the milk. And probably a ha’penny for the soup. But we were very glad of it, those days, you know.
Q: And that was on a Saturday?
Mrs R: That was on a Saturday morning.
Q: And did a lot of people go for that?
Mrs R: A lot of children did. (Q: Yes.) My husband, he was born down the lower part of Witham, and he said, he had to go. (Q: Yes.) He’s often spoke about that.(Q: Yes.) And at Christmas times she’d give us a few nuts, or a few sweets, you see. They were very good those two Miss Luards. I don’t know whether there’s any of them left or now not. Then we had, er, two ladies live up in Chipping Hill. I cannot think what their names are. And they used to come round, even when I got in this house, for the pence [i.e. at 9 Cressing Road, after c.1925]. Well, we used to pay on these pence cards all the year. And then we’d get enough coal on there for our, our winter coal. And we’d get enough to buy two ton of coal on that card. Gradually doing it each week. And these ladies used to put themselves out and come round and get that money off of us. (Q: Yes.) And when I say we got two tons of coal, my coal place would be full right up and we’d have to put the boards up and that was two pounds. (Q: Mmm.) See. Then you look at what they do today. The coal prices today.
Well, as time went on, the War [Second World War], we had to have evacuees, didn’t we? (Q: Yes.) Well, they came to me and asked me if I’d help with these evacuees. Well, I was out all hours with them. I really was. (Q: Mmm.) And, we worked very very hard for them. I was on the Council with them. I had to go to the Council Offices, Collingwood Road, that time of the day. And, er, they’d want this that and the other and I’d have to go on me bike and go and get this that and the other for ‘em. (Q: I see, yes.) And, when they came in, these dear people came in, they’d got their babies on their arms and that, and I was crying all the time I was serving them out with the tins of milk and tins of stuff, I couldn’t help it. When I came home, my husband had got a wife and a baby. There was two children, one was a baby. Well, we dished them out with tins of milk and tins of different stuff. Well, she stayed here quite a long time. I was so busy, looking after these other people, that I hadn’t got time to see if she was doing anything for herself. I fancy they used to go over the Rec. and meet, you know, all of them [Rickstones Road recreation ground]. (Q: Right.) Well, her husband came down, he brought a friend. I gave them their dinner. So she said ‘I’m going back’. So I said ‘Oh, are you?’ So she said, she said ‘Yes’ she said,. He said ‘Well, I wouldn’t if I were you’, he said. ‘You’re quite comfortable here,’ he said. ‘And they’re dropping them up there’, he said. ‘I wouldn’t come back if I was you’. Any rate, she went back. Well, I hadn’t got time to go in her bedroom and see what that was like. I’d got my own family and I was busy with this other family as I called them. But when she’d gone I had the shock of my life. That, the minister, the Congregational minister was something to do with that, that time of the day, and I’d got all this out the back, here. [possibly the woman had been stealing?] And he came round and he said ‘Oh, no, Mrs Raven, not you?’ I said ‘Yes, look’. I said, er, ‘I’ve got to burn this lot,’ I said, ‘I can‘t keep it.’ (Q: Mmm.) But, any rate, dear, I got over that. I done me bit for them. (Q: Mm.) I had a scroll come from the Queen, there, one time.
Q: Is this this rolled up one?
Mrs R: No, I don’t know whether that’s one [noise on tape] I don’t know, no that’s not the, that’s that Golden wedding one. (Q: Ah.) But, it must be in amongst this lot somewhere, I don‘t know where. (Q laughs.) [noises on tape]
Mrs R: I went to work, as the time went on. I went to work up at, er, the Ministry of Food. (Q: Did you?) Yes. I worked there some time up the Ministry of Food. They were very very nice and very very good to me. (Q: That was during the war?) Yes. Yes, that was during the war. They were very very good, they were. That’s my niece. [Noises on tape.] Our retirement. That was her father that worked at the same place, Jerkins[?] you see. I’ve done wedding cakes for all my children. (Q: Did you?) I’ve made wedding cakes for all of them.
[Noises on tapes – words not very clear] My little daughter in law at Chelmsford. That was in the holidays. [Pause] [Possibly looking at photographs so conversation disjointed.]
That’s our Golden Wedding day, I‘m sure it is.
Q: Oh, that’s a good photo, isn‘t it?
Mrs R: Don‘t know if you know Mr Sawyer? The butcher? (Q: Yes.) That’s his daughter. (Q: Oh.) Pamela[?] and John.
Q: Oh yes, that’s a nice one, isn’t it. [Pause]
[Noises on tape.]
Q: That’s another one.
Mrs R: That’s one of the granddaughters getting married. That’s one of my granddaughter. I [???] [words unintelligible]
Mrs R: That’s another one. I had to have the nurse in today, do my foot. (Q: Did you?) She’s a sweet little thing. She really is. (Q: Yes.) There’s another granddaughter. These are the boy’s, these are my son’s children.
Q: Goodness, you’ve got .… [pause] a good collection, haven’t you?
Mrs R: Don’t know if you know Mrs Newman[?] over there, that’s her daughter. How the years go, and the old hats that you used to wear, look (Q: laughs.) That’s .… (Q: Which is this one?) [Pause.]
This dear girl, is head of Halifax now, at Manchester. That’s a granddaughter of mine. That’s my dear boy I lost in the war. [Pause.] This dear girl’s just got her first baby. My daughter’s thrilled with it. (Q: Yes.) She’s a lovely baby, too. There’s that girl again, look. Head of Halifax. There’s the son and his daughter. Now this is a little old fashioned cottage that was down Mill Lane, near that shop on the corner. This is Auntie Taylor[?], that’s my niece, there. Those little tiny cottages, I don’t know whether they’re still standing there now or not. That’s nearly opposite to the gas works. Er, where the car park is, you know?
Q: Oh, I don’t know where they are, I don’t (Mrs R: Down Mill Lane.) I don’t know whether (Mrs R: Down Mill Lane.) Yes, mm, and that’s your aunt there? No, your husband’s aunt?
Mrs R: No, no, that’s a (Q: No.) dear old lady we looked after (Q: I see.) These are, funerals they are. Behind you, there’s two children, this is them (Q: What, just put them in there, shall we?) That’s where they go [noises -? putting items away, murmuring, undistinguishable words.]
Mrs R: This dear girl used to come with the two children every other Sunday to tea with us. And she was, she said ‘I won’t be coming for a fortnight, dear’ she said, ‘because’. she said ‘I’m going to, er, we’re going out for a day or two’. She went out for a day and on the way home, that night, an articulated lorry came from Earls Colne, round the corner, and killed her. That’s her, their house. [Pause]
Do you know Mrs Chew, that’s her three children, when they young. [Pause] I was just going to show you a wedding cake. [words unintelligible due to noise] I don’t seem to get near them. [Pause – noise]
They sent me all the – there he is with the – this dear girl made all these. (Q: Really.) She’s a very very clever girl with her needle. There’s my son at his wedding. (Q: murmurs.) He was a lovely boy, he really was. You know who these are? (Q: No.) The girl Holts.
Q: Oh, of course, yes. Yes, I see now, with the horses.
Mrs R: There’s one of the wedding cakes I made.
Q: Goodness me, did you really?
Mrs R: There’s my Jane as a bridesmaid. Her sister. The youngest one, you see.
[Noises.] Me and Miss Pattisson, when I came up here, Miss Pattisson came to me and she said to me would I take all the children, wasn’t many of them up here this road at that time of the day, would I take them to Sunday school. Well, I say, Sunday school, we had to go to Witham Church [probably All Saints in Guithavon Street; she says later they came past Blyth’s meadows, i.e. Guithavon Valley]. (Q: Mmm.) See. And we had to be there by half past ten on a Sunday morning. She couldn’t get anybody else to get these children. I’d got these three children small then. So I said, Yes I’d do my best. Well I took forty-six. (Q: laughs.) And do you know I had a wonderful husband? (Q: Yes?) He made a swing out here, because they would come an hour before I was ready, you see. (Q: Yes.) He made a swing out here for them and he looked after them until I was ready to go. You used to walk this bit, you see, down to Witham Church. Miss Pattisson said to me one day, I said ‘I don’t’, she said ‘I don’t know why they look up, mind what you say,’ she said, ‘They never make no noise in church with you’. (Q: laughs.) So I said to her, ‘No?’ She said ‘They’re very good, your children’. Because I’d got a lot from Witham, as well, you see. As well as this end coming in the church. She said ‘They mind every word you say’. So I thought, well you don’t know my secret. Now in the winter time, on a Saturday night, once a month, if they were good, they had a little tiny packet of sweets. Me and my husband used to do them up. On a Saturday night. And, er, if they were good they had these packet of sweets. But if they weren’t good they knew they weren’t going to get them. That was the winter months. The summer months, the ice cream man’d be down in the Valley. And you’d know that I would give them a ice cream. If they were good they had a ice cream. So that’s the way they were good [both laugh]. She said to me once, she said ‘I see you go by’, Blyths’ meadows we used to go, come home by. ‘I see you go by the meadows one day’ she said. ‘I thought what a, a mother with her flock’ [Blyth’s was the mill now the Old Mill House, Guithavon Valley, and Blyth’s meadows are now part of the River walk].
Continued on tape 11