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 email@example.com 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 !]
Continued from tape 10
[talking about her making wedding cakes for people during Second World War]
Mrs R: ‘…. if you bring me the material’, I said, ‘Because I cannot get the material’. Because they was on rations, you see, like all of them. So they brought their bits and pieces and I made them all a wedding cake. [Pause].
Q: That’s a good one [looking at photos]. Did you .…
Mrs R: And when they came, and when they came to pay, this wedding cake, I said ‘No,’ I said, ‘I, I don’t want anything,’ I said ‘for doing it’, I said. ‘You brought the material.’ I said ‘But if you’d like to give Mr Raven a packet of cigarettes,’ I said, ‘this is all I shall want’, I said. Because he helped me with the piping. That’s the dear girl, the head of the …. see how she’s grown up. [Q laughs].
Q: Did you, how did you, did you, how did you learn all this, how to make wedding cakes. Just practice? Or did you ….?
Mrs R: Just ordinary ….
Q: Mm, just doing it yourself.
Mrs R: I suppose really I had a good mother to make cakes you know, so I really suppose I – that’s her wedding there.
Q: Did you have to help a lot at home?
Mrs R: Oh I had to work, yes, oh yes, I had to work. I didn’t go out to play before all the washing up was done and all that. (Q: No.) And do you know what, the girls wouldn’t do it today, would they? I turned round and had to get up of a mornings, before I went to school and scrub that kitchen floor over, and that was concrete. (Q: Yes.) Well it wasn’t exactly good s– level concrete. It was like a stone, that it mopped up all the water. And probably I’d get to the door, child-like, and I’d think, well, that water’d do for that little bit. Come along, slap across the face. ‘Are you too lazy to get up and get some more water? That’s not clean!’ And I’d get to do it. (Q: Yes.) I, I don’t hold that against my mother, you know, because she made us do the work properly, that when I started out to service, I knew how to do it. So, of course I was very grateful to her, really, for making me do it the right way. (Q. Yes.) I thought it was hard then, but it wasn’t so hard for me when I went out to service. (Q: No.) They don’t do it today, oh no.
Q: So you helped with the baking as well?
Mrs R: Oh yes, I had to stand and use that trow, they had little tiny trows then, wooden trows. [Mrs Raven says ‘trow’, perhaps a trough] I often wish I’d had that and kept that, you know. And I, I wasn’t very – nine years old. I had to stand up there and roll those – loaves of bread with Mother. (Q: Mm mm.) And I had to do it right, otherwise I got (Q: Yes.) a spank, you know. Oh yes, there was no mincing the words with that. Oh no, they were very very strict, very very strict.
And I had to be in by nine o’clock. When I went to service. (Q: Yes.) My mother went to the first lady I worked for, which was Mrs Cullen [at 16 Chipping Hill]. She said ‘I’d like my girl to have one day a month and no evenings’. [Q gasps.] And I never. All the places I went to, I went to Mrs Pinkham’s, and she lived in Collingwood Road, and that was the same there. ‘You can give her a half a day a week but you’re not to let her out after six’. [Q laughs.] And I had to be home by nine o’clock, even when I was courting my husband. [Q: laughs.] ‘I won’t have you out after nine’. I [???] [???]
There’s another cake I made ….
Q: That’s nice, yes. So, how many places did you go to then?
Mrs R: Well, I went to – that’s the granddaughter’s ….
Q: Cullens’ and Mrs Pinkham’s?
Mrs R: Yes, I, I went to Mrs Pinkham. I went to Mrs Nelthorpe after I lost Mother [probably 32 Newland Street]. After I lost Mother, I went to Mrs Nelthorpe’s. Because, Father married again. I, as a matter of fact, I said to Father, I said ‘Well I’ll have to get a job’, because really I hadn’t got enough money to buy any clothes for underneath. So I really went out stone picking and one thing and another. And I knew he was getting, or thought of getting married any rate. And, er …. [pause]. He said ‘Well, you’re in no hurry to go out to service.’ I said, ‘No, but I’ve got no clothes’. But before I went to Mrs Nelthorpe, I went to a person in Chelmsford. I cannot think what her name is now, and he had a cycle shop in Tindal Street. She was a sister to me, she really was. And I thought my father was going to marry this woman, you see. And I knew he’d want, didn’t want me there. He was a good Dad. But he was strict, which they all were. And, er, I went to this place and she was like a sister to me. She clothed me. She found out how I was and she clothed me. Well, my sister was in service that time of the day, in London, to these people. And evidently Father’s wedding fell through. I didn’t know. Cos I hadn’t got the money to come down home with in any case.
And, er, one day this lady, Ainsworth, it’s come to me now, she sent me down the town to do some shopping. When I came back, she said ‘I don’t know’. She used to call me Ellen there. She said ‘I don’t know, Ellen, but I think it was your sister that came round here today.’ I said ‘Oh, did she?’ She said ‘She’d come from London’. So she said ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘She’s given your notice’. I said ‘Did you take it?’ She said ‘No, I didn’t, I told her you was old enough to give your own notice.’ So, er, I said ‘Oh, yes, here she comes’ I said, and I was talking to her in the front. So I went round. So she said ‘You’ve got to leave this place and go home. Dad didn’t get married.’ I said ‘Oh, no’. I said ‘I’m just picking up nicely on my feet and my clothes, now.’ I said ‘You go home, you’re the oldest,’ I said ‘you go home’. Oh no, she couldn’t go home, she said, she was thinking about getting married. I said ‘Then I never do? Think of getting married one day?’ I said. Any rate, she didn’t get her own way. And, er, I didn’t go home.
Well, this dear boy, which was my second oldest brother, I was very fond of him. He came home off the water. Came home for a little while after his trip, you see. And he came round to me. And he said to me ‘Dear, will you go home and look after Dad?’ I said ‘I don’t want to leave here.’ He said, ‘No‘, he said ‘but Dad wants you.’ He said ‘He’s got nobody. He’s out all day on the fields’, he said. ‘He’s tired when he comes home.’ So the lady came through and I was having a few tears. So she said ‘What’s the matter Ellen?’ So I said, ‘My brother wants me to go home to look after my father,’ I said ‘And I don’t want to leave’. So she said ‘Well, is your duty, dear, isn’t it?’ So, I said ‘Yes, I suppose so’. And my brother, I noticed, paid her in a little bit of gold, I suppose a half a sovereign that time of the day, and she said to my brother, ‘No,’ she said ‘I don’t take that’ she said. ‘I’d give that to Ellen’.
Do you know when I got home, she used to cycle every Wednesday, from Chelmsford to see me, (Q: Uh huh.) in that little cottage up Powershall End. (Q: Mmm.) And she used to stop and have a cup of tea and she used to cycle all the way back through Terling way. And she used to give me a shilling. And that shilling was valuable at that time of day. And she did that for years, until she parted with her husband. She got a divorce from him. And I never heard where she went to, after then. I think she married this other man, you see. But I thought how good she was to me.
And then I done another three years with Father till he did think of getting married. I thought that person that he was thinking of getting married, would have been a very nice stepmother, which she would have done, ‘cos she knew the family. But the one he married, no. She wasn’t. We should have come in for some money, when she died, really, but Father died first. And Mr Bright came in and he said at the funeral, he said ‘The bungalow is Mrs Turner’s’, he said. ‘And Mrs Turner will live on the income of John Turner’s property while she’s alive.’ Well, ‘And on the event of her death, shall be sold and divided among John Turner’s children that are then living.’ Well, when she died Mr Bright sent for me and I went to see him. And he took all the names, well, some I’d lost, you see, in the family. And he took all the names. And, that was on the Monday, on the Friday, he sent for me and he said ‘I wasn’t aware of this, Mrs Raven,’ he said. ‘But Mrs Turner took it on sole survivorship, so none of you get a penny’. And I think the house was sold, and what Father had got, for seven thousand. Now you know from the little bit of money that he got, he was able to save up to buy a house. (Q: Goodness.) And I’ll tell you where the house was. It was right next door to that shop in Braintree Road. It’s a three-storey house, there. (Q: What, next to Hammonds’ shop?) Yes, right next door, this side [Mr Turner’s probably 15 Braintree Road; Hammond’s was 13 Braintree Road].
Q: So when did he go there?
Mrs R: Father bought that, you see.
Q: When did he buy that then?
Mrs R: He bought that – in his life. He saved up that money. But I think ….
Q: So that was when he was married again?
Mrs R: He married again. I think, dear, I lost that brother in the war and he did allow him so much a week, you see. And I suppose really, he saved that up and saved that up, like I did my son’s, thinking that they would come back, you see. And then I suppose he must have had some money down as well. And that and what he’d saved. I suppose that’s where he put the money.
Q: ‘Cos the house at Powershall End, that was rented, was it?
Mrs R: Er, the one that we lived in first, that belonged to the Hutleys, the farmer [Philip Hutley. Cottage since demolished; approx. where garage is now next to 127 Powershall End]. (Q: Yes.) Eighteen pence a week he paid there. (Q: Yes.) For rent, you see. But the other little bungalow, you see, on that little bit of money that he’d got [since demolished; probably site now west of entrance to Spring Lodge community centre, Powershall End] (Q: The bungalow was his, mm.) That was his. He bought that (Q: Right.). Marvellous how these old people managed, didn’t they? (Q: That’ s right.) You see, the food, (Q: So you’d got ….) the food wasn’t so dear then, you see. Well, it hadn’t, any bit of money, I don’t think he only earned about eight shillings when he’d got all of us there. You see, so ….
Q: What would you do for um, you say you grew vegetables and things, what other food would you have, do you think?
Mrs R: He’d set, he’d set all the vegetables. Well, you see, dear, they’d get a rabbit for sixpence. (Q: Yes.) That used to make a lovely meal, you see. And the meat was cheap then, you see, too and all. Mother’d make a stew that’d last you two or three days. Well, two days at any rate. And then they’d – she’d use puddings, you see. You more or less lived on puddings.
Q: Where would you go for the meat?
Mrs R: Well, there was, Greatrex’s in Church Street, for one [since demolished, approx. 6 Church Street]. And there was Sorrell’s, down the town [143 Newland Street]. That’s not there now (Q: Mm, I think I‘ve heard of it.) And then there was Loveday’s [58 Newland Street]. You, I mean, you’d take a plate and go and get some liver there, you’d take a dinner plate, as a matter of fact, he’d slop that right on there, it’d be full for tuppence. See. You wouldn’t get it today, would you (Q: No.) Liver’s very dear today. (Q: Yes.) We’d take the plate for that, you see. (Q: I see.) That’s Loveday’s, that’s where, in the, in the middle of the town. That’s not Loveday’s now, is it?
Q: No, it isn‘t, but I know where you mean, yes.
Mrs R: It’s a butcher’s shop, there, you know where I mean. (Q: Yes.) Nearly opposite the International. We used to go there quite a lot, you know. (Q: Yes.) And there used to be a, a grocery shop in the town, name of Pearce. [74-76 Newland Street] And Mother would go down once a week. And they’d have these big baskets, round sort of baskets with a handle on. And that would be her lot. She wouldn’t be able to get no more. It had to last, you see.
Q: What sort of things would she get there?
Mrs R: Tea, sugar, butter. There wasn’t such a thing as margarine in those days. (Q: Wasn’t there? No]. I suppose they must have had some other sort of fat. I don’t remember. But she used to go down only once a week. And I always remember, I was just a child, I wasn’t very old, I went with her, she – the International was open then [43-45 Newland Street]. And, um, this girl said how much this was on the scale. So she said ‘I’ll pay for that, when you take your fingers off of it’. [Q: laughs.] She said ‘I’m not paying for your fingers’. [Both laugh.] ‘Cos the girl had got her fingers on the scale. She said, and she said ‘And I’m not paying for the, I’m not paying for the, for your fingers’ she said. [Mrs R laughing as she speaks] She was very very sharp, very very abrupt. But she’d got a heart of gold, bless her. But they had hard times those days, didn’t they? (Q: Yes.)
So I made all these forty six children …. [that she took to church at Miss Pattisson’s request, mentioned on previous tape].
There are, there’s another one, there, of my granddaughter’s. Do you know, they never once paid for one of these [cakes]? Not my children. Well, they reckoned it was manners, you know. There they are, the bridesmaids.
Q: So I was thinking, about the food again, did, was – would the Hutleys, sort of be any help or anything [farmers at Powershall].
Mrs R: They were very very mean [hushed]. Oh, very very mean. Father worked on the farm, but he had to pay for a rabbit. And, and they’d get a bag full of turnips, but mind you it’d be sixpence, but he had to pay for them. And he wouldn’t allow him to take one, no.
There’s that last granddaughter. I made her, all these cakes were made four and five years before they were iced. (Q: Yes.) I made that before I went into hospital, four years before I went into hospital. And that cut out just – I didn’t, (Q: That’s marvellous.) I didn’t ice hers over, because I wasn’t well enough. (Q: No.) But, I done all those children’s cakes and I gave them to them, they never paid a penny for them. I gave them to them, as their, that was their wedding present, really.
Q: I don’t think you’ve shown me these older ones, (Mrs R: No.) did you? Now what happened to them? They were in an envelope, weren’t they? [noises/pause] Perhaps it was these, was it? [Pause]
Mrs R: Yes, that’s right. That’s the cottage. That’s the cottage I was born in [looking at photographs; cottage since demolished; approx. where garage is now next to 127 Powershall End; see picture 4]
Q: Let’s have a look. Start another heap, shall we?
Mrs R: That‘s the cottage I was born. See, this is, this is Father. That isn’t my mother. That, he had a housekeeper for a time. And that’s the brother that was on the water. That’s the youngest brother that lived in the bungalow, that died there, in ten days. There’s me and my husband. We were courting then, you see. Well this one, that’s his wife and that‘s that baby I told you, see, multiply sclerosis (Q: Oh yes.) That’s Father. That little tiny cottage, it was lovely and bright and beautiful and clean inside. And we had a grapevine. Father used to make the grapevine, when …. ( Q: Uh uh.) And we used to be able to get our hands out the window and pick them and eat them.
Q: So how many rooms would there be? (Mrs R: Four.) can you remember?
Mrs R: Four. (Q: There’d be four?) Two up and two down (Q: Goodness.) Yes (Q: Yes.) ’Cos that must have been rather awkward for Mother when she had the girls, you know, (Q: Yes.) mustn’t it? But they, that wasn’t partitioned off that time of the day. That, those two bedrooms, they were all open. (Q: No.) But Father partitioned one bedroom off, so there was two separate bedrooms. Because the big bedroom, they had their bed in there and we had, us girls, had our bed in the corner. So really, we had to sleep –, but the boys slept in the other room.
Q: So you slept in your parents’ room.
Mrs R: Yes. Oh, we were asleep when they came up, so quiet (Q: Quiet enough.) And they were up before we were.
Q: So, your father had this housekeeper after your mother died.
Mrs R: She, she wasn’t there long. (Q: No.) It was after Mother died. (Q: Yes.) He had that. She wasn’t there long. That’s my husband and his two uncles on my front garden, there. (Q: Yes.)
Now this was done at that place, Mrs Nelthorpe’s I‘m telling you [picture 5]. (Q: Mm.) I met him there, you see. He was a baker, (Q: Oh I see.) come round there that time. And Mr – (Q: That’s lovely isn’t it) the photographer next door [Billy Bull, 34 Newland Street], he said to me, he said, ‘Willie’s out the front’ he said, ‘Can you come over’ he said ‘and have your photograph taken?’ And he was a photographer. His people kept the pub, over the Red Lion, that time of the day [7 Newland Street]. So I said ‘I don’t know’ I said. ‘Mrs Nelthorpe hasn’t gone to church this morning’. He said ‘Well, it won’t take a minute’. So I slipped over the back, on the wall, he put a – something the other side the wall, and I had that taken (Q: laughs.) It was just before we married.
Q: Yes. It’s a lovely one, that.
Mrs R: He was a lovely boy, bless him. He really was. And there we are ….
Q: [Reading from the photo] ‘W. Bull’.
Mrs R: Bull that it. That’s the name, Bull. There we are. (Q laughs.) Down Clacton, I think we were, there.
Q: Did you go out much – (Mrs R: No!) out of Witham much?
Mrs R: Sixpenny, sixpenny ride to Maldon, dear, was the furthest we went (Q: Oh.) until they got offhand a bit and I went out to work and we had a day off down at Clacton. And I did manage to get a holiday down at Margate. As the children grew up, you see (Q: Yes.). But I had to work hard to get that. I took in a lot of washing. (Q: Yeah.) No end of washing I took in.
Q: What, when the children were quite young, still?
Mrs R: Yes, and when they went to school. Used to go to Maldon for sixpence, you see, that time of the day. Used to go ….
Q: So when did you, when you said you went out to work, what was the, when your, the children, what was ….
Mrs R: Then I done all, I done all housework, used to go out to do housework. I worked for, er, used to go out and cook a seven course hot dinner at night. One of the uncles’d stay here with the children, my husband would be doing the doughs, and I’m, when he left off doughs he’d pick me up and come home. Sixpence an hour I got for that.
Q: What sort of person would you work for?
Mrs R: Such as those big houses down here, where, near where I worked at Cullens’s [16 Chipping Hill]. (Q: Yeah.) I’ve been along of those houses, there. Worked there. I’d go round there, cook a seven course dinner. (Q: Yeah.) For sixpence an hour.
Q: Would that be sort of every evening or just when they wanted a special do?
Mrs R: Evening, evening.
Q: Every evening?
Mrs R: More or less. More or less every evening. Sometimes I’d be in one house a week or two and perhaps I’d go in another house. Wherever they want me, you see?
Mrs R: But, um sixpence an hour. And do you know, all those houses round here, they’ve built round here, as bungalows, Adams & Mortimer built them [yard was in White Horse Lane]. (Q: Oh yes.) And I went and scrubbed every one of them out for sixpence an hour. That took me a week to scrub them out. I’d be earned ten shillings. (Q: gasps.) They wouldn’t do it today, would they? (Q: No.) Cos, because you see, dear, when they build a house, at that time of the day there wasn’t carpets on the floor. It was lino if they were lucky to get that, you see. Well, you’d got have every little bit of that cement up otherwise your lino wasn’t going cover. (Q: Of course.) You see, you’ve got to scrub them clean.
Q: What, you scrubbed the cement ….?
Mrs R: Yes. Scrubbed these boards white They used to be a white, you know, then.
Q: [Tuts] Goodness.
Mrs R: I always remember Mortimer coming to me one day. And I said ‘No, I’m not scrubbing any more,’ I said, ‘for you.’ He said ‘Er, I can’t …. ’. ‘No’, I said, ‘ you won’t get nobody’ I said, ‘to scrub them for the money I, you give me’ I said. He said ‘I went and asked that person next door to scrub them,’ he said. ‘She did, but she didn’t half scrub them, so’ he said, ’they weren’t no good.’
Q: [Laughs] That’s all that practice you had at home, wasn’t it?
Mrs R: Mother made me, you see, dear. She made us do it the right way. I used have to stand and help her do the washing. (Q: Mmm.) and I had to do it right. Otherwise I got a hit. Made you do it right. I never knew what it was to go out to play after I got home from school. (Q: No.) Cos I’d got to help her do the vegetables and I got to help wash up. You see, they got me, or I’d got to do the bread. I’d got to help her do the dough. There was always a job. (Q: Yes.) And then in the night, light evenings when the, when I could get over the fields, I’d got to go over the fields.
Q: After school even?
Mrs R: Yes. And, I, one job or other‘d come along. (Q: Mmmm.) As, as the stuff come along in the fields you’d have to go along and do that. (Q: yes.) Until it was dark.
Q: I see. Did she ever have you off school to do that sort of thing?
Mrs R: No. No. When we’d finished school. (Q: Just after school.) Oh, mother wouldn’t let us …. No, no.
Q: Where did you go to school?
Mrs R: I went to Chipping Hill School, but not where that is now. (Q: No.) I don’t know if you know that place where Shelleys stored their furniture [22 Church Street]. (Q: Oh yes.) That was our school. (Q: Oh.) Up, downstairs and upstairs. Funny little old place. (Q: Yes.) And then I went down to Witham School, you see [National Schools, Guithavon Street]. I had to, to run down there, used to go right across those fields, and out there by Blyth’s [now the Old Mill House, Guithavon Valley], right across, you see. And then up by the church [All Saints] to school. And I used to run all that way home, dinnertime. And when I got home dinnertime, it was a piece of bread and lard and salt. See. (Q: gasps.)
Q: Can you remember anything about the Chipping Hill School?
Mrs R: Yes. It was very very nice up there. Really, I don’t remember a lot about it but there was ….
Q: No, it was probably just infants, was it?
Mrs R: There was more or less the infants. When you got a certain age you had to go down to the – but we were younger going down to the Witham School than what we were, up in the, what they go today. (Q: Yes.) Cos I think they are more or less six or seven before they go down there. (Q: Seven.) Seven aren’t they, now? Before they go. Well, we went much younger than that. We had to make, go to make room for the others, you see.
Q: How old would you be when you actually started going to Chipping Hill School?
Mrs R: Oh, I was about three or four. (Q: Were you?) Yes. I wasn’t very old. (Q: No.) Four at the most, at a guess. They don’t go that age now, do they?
Q: You have to nearly five, or five.
Mrs R: Yes. Oh yes we went down – the mothers were glad to get rid of us. (Q: Yes.) See. Cos Mother’d have to go out, probably out to fieldwork. (Q: Mmm.) So she was glad to get rid of us. We’ve walked miles and miles and miles for pea picking. I have, in my married life. I’ll tell you of one field I went to and that was up by Stovers Hall at Rivenhall [Stoverns]. I went there at four o’clock in the morning and I worked till four o’clock in the afternoon and I earned fourteen shillings that day and I was that thrilled (Q: Mmm.) to think I’d earned fourteen shillings that day. I was able to buy the children something, you see. And stand up in that boiling hot heat all that time. I’ve walked all the way to Fairstead from here (Q: Uh uh.) I did when I was down Maldon Road. (Q: Goodness.) Before my husband came home. I walked from Maldon Road right up to Fairstead. (Q: Yes.). And one day there was a thunderstorm. And that poured. I was the last one in the field. The baby was crying and I was crying and I didn’t know how to get the pram out the field. Walking all the way down Terling Road and the sun was shining so hot that dried all the clothes on me. (Q: gasps.) And I was bad after that. I lost every bit of hair in me head. (Q: Really?) I had what they call a Spanish ’flu. (Q: Goodness.) And Doctor [Ted] Gimson’s mother was alive then and she sent down, there was a few more in the Maldon Road that had got it as well as me, and Mrs Wiseman, she lost two children with that, the time I laid bad. And this, Doctor Gimson’s mother, used to do us up a brandy mixture. Every morning. There was egg and brandy in it, and we had a tablespoonful of that every morning and every night. (Q: gasps.) I laid so bad with that. I’d got the baby then. And I, he wasn’t walking when I left, when they took him away from me, cos I was so bad. And when I got up and managed to get to the window, I see him toddling the other side of the road. (Q: Ahh.) With his Auntie. So you see how bad I was. I did .…
Q: So what sort of …. I suppose they wouldn’t have so much in the way of medicines those days?
Mrs R: Oh no. Not that like I’ve got today. I’ve got no end of bottles of tablets here. (Q: laughs.) I wouldn’t have all them when I was that age. No. Oh no.
Q: I just remember someone telling me that when they were very young they still remember having to come up to the spring up Powershall End way with the bottles? (Mrs R: Yes.) Did you used to use that at all?
Mrs R: Yes. They used to come to Spa Place [58 Powershall End]. Not in my time (Q: No.) but in my father’s time. (Q: Yes.) All over the country for the spa water, there. That was in Spa Place, there, see. (Q: Yes.) It was a very frightening place when I was young, Spa Place. (Q: Was it?) Very, very frightening. There was very very large lot of trees along there, very very dark. And I’ll tell you, there used to be a Miss Brake and her mother lived there and they were very very weird. You never hardly saw them out in the day time. But at night time, they’d stand against their gate all in white, her and her mother. (Q: [gasps/laughs] Strange.) My brother, one of my brothers, started on the railway and he’d got to go on mid night, you see. Believe he was a shunter. Well, he happened to go down there and they happened to stand there. He rolled in the ditch, he was so frightened. You see. (Q: Mmm.) Well Mother used to go up that ditch, if Granny was ill, see, of a night time, but Mother never took no notice of them. (Q: No.) They were very very queer those two folks. And she never saw a, a grocer or baker or milkman. She had little tiny individual places all along in that shed. And they had, they’d know their boxes each. (Q: Uh uh.) Each one of them. (Q: To put their things in, yes.) The bread, the groceries, the milk. And do you know, she’d never see them. She’d leave their money there. And the Christmas time, she’d knit them a pair of mittens. [Q: laughs] And she’d put them in the box. And she’d kept rams. (Q: Uh uh.) And they were in that meadow, right next to Spa Place. There’s no meadow now, I don’t think. I think they must have built all on there. (Q: No.) Well, if she thought the children were playing about too much round about that place, she’d let these rams out. We’d be scared stiff. (Q: Yes.) We would, we’d be scared stiff. You know as children – she’d got a plum tree round the back, there. Back of this meadow. Of course, we children used to go and get these plums. [Q: laughs.] Naturally. [Mrs R laughs as speaks] We weren’t no better than anybody else. (Q: No.) And she’d send these rams out. (Q: Yes.) You know where that house was built, on the corner of the road as you go up towards the Co-op?
Q: Yes, yes, I know. On, yes, near the roundabout [corner of Spa Road and Powershall End, probably west side]
Mrs R: Miss Perry, Mrs Perry’s daughter’s got that. (Q: Oh.) Mrs Perry’s daughter’s got that. There’s a biggish house, stand there on the corner. (Q: A new one.) Yes. (Q: Yes.) On that side. Well, there used to be four little cottages there. (Q: Really.) Four little cottages. Very quaint little cottages, very old. I can remember them, picture them. I often wish I’d took a photograph of them. I tell you, she’s still alive down Laurence Avenue way, somewhere. Mrs Charlie Jennings[?]. Her husband’s father and mother lived there. See. And then she moved further down near what I call The Well, you know, as you go up to, um, Highfields Road. (Q: Mm.) There’s a barn there. (Q: Yes.) There’s a shed.
Mrs R: …. sweet mice for the tree. Mother used to give us a tree (Q: For Christmas?) Christmas tree, yes. And she used to lay on a nice spread for us, for Christmas. Mind you, we didn’t get what they get today, we got an orange and an apple and a few nuts in our stocking and that was that. But, er (Q: laughs.) we did go down and get these sugar mice, and I remember this particular Christmas. The brother I lost at Hatfield, he was a little older, two years older than me. And, she sent us down to Doole’s, Mother did. And when we got into this Spa Place [58 Powershall End], he said to me, he said ‘If there’s a man come along’ he said ‘he’ll say goodnight to you’ he said ‘but you take to your heels and run.’ I thought it was all a lot of – as a child, like, you know. Well, where that roundabout is now, there was some very very old cottages there [corner of Spa Road and Powershall End, probably west side]. Very old cottages. I tell you what, when they had a Guy Fawkes, one of the old ladies was sitting in the toilet and they took her and the toilet and all.
Q: (laughs) Did they?
Mrs R: (laughs) The men did, you know. So you know they were old. Well this man come along. And as children, you see, we were frightened out of our lives. And he said goodnight. And my brother got hold of me. ‘Run’, he said, ‘run’. And we run to this first cottage. And we were that scared to go on to Doole’s, that we had to stop there a long while. And so she said ‘Well, I don’t think there’s anybody about now, dear,’ after we’d stopped there about an hour or more. We got down to Doole’s [45Chipping Hill] and we were so frightened that we told Mrs Doole about this, you know. Well, the brewers used to come along in their horse and tumbrils that time of the day, you see, with the casks of beer, going on to Notley, you see. So she said to this brewer, she said ‘I wonder,’ she said, ‘if you’ll mind taking these two children’, she said ‘and dropping them up in Powershall’. And she said ‘They’re rather scared of going through the Spa Place’ she said. And he did that, I always remembered that. (Q: Yes.) So you can tell how much that was shrouded with trees. (Q: Yes.) It was so dark in there, you see. It’s different today, it’s all – they’ve built houses, they tell me, the other side of Spa Place, in the meadow that we used to play in.
Q: Yes, I think so, yes.
Mrs R: Marvellous what they’ve done ….
Q: You ought perhaps be telling me about the Monks’ Walk. Because I’ve never ….
Mrs R: Well, you know the other, the other meadow, over the other side, where they’ve built there now. They used to have, there was two lovely rows of big trees there [north side of Powershall End].
Q: On the right or the left as you go out?
Mrs R: You know as you go along here, you know there’s one …. (Q: Mmm.) You know where the roundabout is, don’t you? Well, you go down that roundabout, and they’re on that other, like park there, they’ve built all along there, haven’t they ?
Q: If you go up towards the Victoria ….?
Mrs R: You can go out over, towards the Victoria, but you see you go down that roundabout to get on that land, don’t you?
Q: Yes, oh, I know where you mean [open area behind Powershall End houses, accessed from bottom of Flora Road and leading east to Spring Lodge, 3 Powershall End]
Mrs R: You know ….?
Q: Going down, to the right ….
Mrs R: Yes, and they’ve built all along there, haven’t they? See?
Q: Yes, yes.
Mrs R: Well, there used to be two rows of trees, big trees, there. Used to be a lovely place, really. Well the monks, not in my time, but in my father’s time, they used to go up and down there and chant. (Q: Really?) Well I saw in the paper a little while back, I wish I’d a kept that, where these people, that have been round this part now building, they’d found the old monks’ hideout. (Q: Oh.) I thought how interesting (Q: I didn’t see that.) You see, they used to come from that, where that Community Centre is, right the way through [Spring Lodge, 3 Powershall End]. Because you see there was a chase, as we called it, to go right through into Faulkbourne [footpath to left of 29 Powershall End]. (Q: Yes.) Well, they’d come right across that. The back of that bungalow that stands empty. (Q: Yes, yes.) They’d come along of there and they’d chant and go up and down there. I always remember, I lost a canary, a beautiful canary once, and I, that went up on to the trees in there and I took the cage and I called it back again off the trees in the cage. Cos it was a lovely place up there. (Q: Yes.) They’ve spoilt all that up there. But you know, they kept telling me they had built on the Moors. Well, over the other side of where they’ve built, they’ve got right to the edge of the Moors. The other side of where they’ve built, there’s the Moors [field north of Honeysuckle Way, either side of afore-mentioned footpath to Faulkbourne]. And it’s one mass of bubbling springs, all the way along. From the Faulkbourne Road, right the way round, to the bottom there.
Q: But they haven’t built on that, there ….
Mrs R: They can’t (Q: No.) very well. I had a health visitor come in here once, and I said to her ‘I was surprised’ I said, ‘my daughter took me up and showed me,’ I said ‘them building up there’, I said. ‘Now’, I said, ‘where Father got his bungalow,’ I said ‘there’s a ditch run along the bottom of there’ [west of Spring Lodge?]. Cos they grew all the watercress in there. And as children, I had an aunt who lived there then, in the little tiny cottages, we’d have to go and sell this watercress for tuppence a bunch, you see. So I said ‘But they’ve built a house right on this place’ I said, ’now surely they piped that?’ She said ‘No, they didn’t’ she said. (Q: Mmm.) She said ‘And they are already cracking and sinking’. (Q: Yes.) You see, there are so many springs around there, you see, really.
Q: Cos your cottage was on, if you go up towards the Victoria, it was on the right. (Mrs R: Yes.) Probably. (Mrs R: Yes, on the ….) Yes, there is a sort of dip along there, isn‘t there?
Mrs R: Yes. You go right, there’s a lot of building up there. They’ve built all along Faulkbourne Road, I hear, now.
Q: Yes. I’ve just come back from there. The Moors was where, somebody told me, they went with a bottle to get the water from the springs. (Mrs R: Yes.) If someone was poorly.
Mrs R: Yes, we always used, yes, when we, when we worked on those orchards there. Which we had to work on those orchards, quite a lot. We used to go there and get the spring water for drink. We never took any drink with us (Q: Yes.) because we knew the springs, they’d bubble up all the time. (Q: Yes.) Beautiful water. (Q: Was it really?) Beautiful water. Lovely and clear and clean. You wouldn’t get the water like that out the taps like they was then. (Q: No.) There’s a lot of springs along there. Cos we had to be out there early in the morning on the fields there to work there on the orchards, you see. Currant picking and plum picking and apple picking. Yes, we’ve had to do all that around there. Mind you, we could get, we could get on in the summertime and earn a few shillings to get the clothes ready for the winter. We used to go there to buy our clothes, you see. That money (Q: Right.) had to buy our clothes for the winter, you see. Otherwise we wouldn’t have got any clothes. Cos ….
Q: You mean the, were there, was there any factory work (Mrs R: No.) for the women in those days?
Mrs R: No, no. No, no. There wasn’t even Crittall’s that time of the day.
Q: No. Cos, when did the glove factory .…?
Mrs R: The glove factory (Q: Start.) came (Q: Later, perhaps.) Well, that came here, Pinkham’s came there then. (Q: Mmm.) Cos I worked for Pinkhams. (Q: Yes, you said you worked there, that reminded me.) Yes. They, erm, they had the factory where Guy’s place is now [1 Chipping Hill]. (Q: Yes.) And I can remember as a little tiny tot, I wasn’t very old, cos Mother got hold of my hand, but I was old enough to know what she said. And, that was the end of the Mafeking War, and we’d, we’d been down the town, and they’d got barrels and barrels of tar lit down there. And they’d got these pull[?] pokers. And they went up and down the town with them all alight, you know. And coming back, where Pinkham’s factory is, they’d got stacks and stacks of faggots. And they lit them. And I heard my mother said ‘Oh what a big shame’, she said. ‘So many poor people could do with those faggots’. Cos Mother put a faggot at a time in the bake house, you see. (Q: Yes, of course.) You see, Father was allowed so much wood per year, off the farms [Powershall]. The trees, you’d got to go and cut ’em down, and do ’em, and he did that, and he’d get the faggots. So she, she wouldn’t have to pay a lot of money for them. (Q: No.) And that would heat her bake house, you see. She’d put these in and light it and then draw them out and put her bread in. (Q: Yes.) They don’t do that today .…
Q: Oh I see, just put it straight in the oven (Mrs R: Yes.) Mmm.
Mrs R: See, they’d light these faggots up and get it hot and then they’d drag those ashes out, and put the bread in. (Q: What, in the ashes?) Yes. And they’d cook without those ashes in there. (Q: Must have been a job.) It’d be so hot, you see. Because they wouldn’t do that today. You see, she’d do all her bread by hand. They don’t do that. (Q: No.) Father had to do it proper [i.e. her husband]. He had to do all his by hand and – he was there twenty six years [Palmer’s, 83 Newland Street].
Q: So you said the other, ur, um .…
Mrs R: You see that sort of helped her that way, you see. That didn’t cost you much for your heating. You see, then you’d get a tree, probably a tree’d come down. Well, he’d be allowed so much on that tree. Perhaps two men’d be allowed that, you see. Well, he’d go and saw that all up. They’d have the logs on the fire.
Q: Yes. They didn’t get much else out of the farm?
Mrs R: I remember the coal being eighteen pence a hundredweight. (Q: Coal, mmm.) It was eighteen pence a hundredweight after I lost Mother. (Q: Yes.) And I was paying that out. There’s a difference today, isn’t there?
Q: So you’d have a fire?
Mrs R: Oh, we had a lovely fire. (Q: But with the coal?) Oh, we were lovely and warm (Q: As well as ….) Yes. Lovely and warm.
Q: And what about light.? I suppose that would be ….?
Mrs R: Had the lamps. I had lamps (Q: Lamps.) when I come up here [9 Cressing Road, in 1925]. I didn’t have gas nor, nor electric (Q: No.) when I come up here. I had a kitchener in here. I had a open stove in the kitchen. See. Things have altered, haven’t they? (Q: Yes.) Yes. When I come up here. Fifty-two years ago I was, had a kitchener in here. And I never had no gas. I had a brass lantern – do you know I threw all of them in the dustbin? [Q: laughs.] I never thought they’d come in.
Q: Oh, quite, yes.
Mrs R: Do you know I used to make gallons and gallons of wine when I first got married. (Q: Did you?) And I had these great big pans all red glazed inside. They’d stand about as high as this. And I’d have these big stone jars, you know, and I say when they’re stone jars, they’re big round stone jars, they come up to a neck like that, you know. I gave them all away. (Q: Yes.) When I finished making wine. [Q: laughs.] I found the wine didn’t suit my husband (Q: No) so I said ‘Well, I’m not making it if you’re not going to drink it (Q: No.) so
Q: Did your mother used to, your mother make .…?
Mrs R: Mother …. Father used to make a lot (Q: With the grapes?) Yes, of course I learnt it all from him. You see. [Pause]
Q: And did people, (Mrs R: He’s made ….) I suppose, make it and, just the same as they do now? I suppose, did they? Just sort of .…?
Mrs R: Well, dear, (Q: Keep it in a bottle.) I think they’d got a better idea than what we’d got today, (Q: Did they?) meself. Although it’s a harder way round of doing it. (Q: Yes.) I’ll tell you what he used to do. When they used to come in from work. The others’d be coming past the house, you see [in Powershall End]. He’d call them in. Because he’d built a shed, you see, purposely to put this wine in. He’d built – and he’d call them in. And he’d love to get them drunk. [Q: laughs.] Loved to get them drunk. And you know many and many a time they’ve gone down that Spa Place [58 Powershall End], there’s a ditch there, there was, (Q: Yes.) I don’t know as it’s there now, and they’d get as far as there and they’d have to roll in and stop there the night. [Q: laughs/Mrs R laughs as she speaks] And he’d be roaring of laughing. (Q: Yes.) See, they had the good times, you see.
Q: Was the Victoria a, a pub (Mrs R: That ….) then [Powershall End]?
Mrs R: That was a pub. Been a pub all my life. (Q: Yes.) And that man, that kept it, Mr Pawsey kept it, he used to, he used to sell faggots, as well. He used to go and get the wood, and get the faggots. He used to take us to Faulkbourne. He’d got twin daughters. And they’re dear girls, they’re the same age as I am. And we went to school together. And only a little packed cottage we’d got. But they would insist if they come down to play with me they’d stop the night with me. [Q/Mrs R laughs] Their older sister, she didn’t go on that one. She’d come down, ‘You can’t stop here with Edith. You’ll have to come home.’ They would, they’d stop. They’d get in this bed with me, they’d stop there all night. [Q/Mrs R laughs]. They’re in Scotland now. They were down here last year. I don’t guess we shall see them this year. That is their sister what lives, Annie Rudkin in Albert Road, she’s ninety one [20 Albert Road]. [Q: Oh, really?] She could tell you more than I could tell you about the old times, you know, really.
Q: Yes. [laughs] And she lived, so she lived up there, yes?
Mrs R: Yes. When I was child, you see, these twins’d say ‘Dad’s going into Faulkbourne, to get these faggots’. Well, they used to go and they used to take me with ‘em. We used to go and get the violets and the primroses and we used to get the faggots, you see. Make, you’d chop up your wood and get the faggots. (Q: Mm.) But they were dear. He used to go round selling them, he we did. (Q: Oh, I see, yes.). See, he went round selling them.
Q: What, and he was at the Victoria, as well?
Mrs R: He was at the Victoria. There was another man down Bridge Street, name of Cooper, and he was in with him [Edward Cooper, beer retailer]. They used to get this wood and sell it as faggots. Go round selling the faggots. (Q: Mmm.) The faggots were very valuable that time of the day. (Q: Oh, right, yes.) You wouldn’t hear of them today, I suppose. (Q: No.) Really, would you? I’ve never known anybody come round with them while I’ve been married, any rate. But they were valuable, because Mother’d put a whole one of those in the oven at a time. (Q: Mmmm.) Whole faggot in there at a time. (Q: Mmm.) They never had to pay a lot for their wood. Not fire–. If there was a tree come down, Mr Hutley would say, well, they, have it between two of them and they’d pay so much, but not a lot of money, not that time of the day.
Q: But you reckon, he’d pay, always paid for the other stuff off the farm, as well [at Powershall].
Mrs R: But he was very very mean. Yes, he wouldn’t let you have any turnips or anything like, unless you paid for it. Oh, you daren’t touch nothing. No. Very very close. He died worth thousands. And yet he kept those men on a very small wage like that. Well, you know if I’d ….
Q: Mmm. And was his, was he very strict, I mean, what happened (Mrs R: Oh yes.) if anyone did anything he didn’t like? What would happen ….?
Mrs R: Oh yes, he’d go round and tell ’em. (Q: Yes.) He walked round, he was walking round after them all day, as a matter of fact. (Q: Was he?) Mm mm. Oh, they were very very strict. She never was able to keep a maid long at a time, because she didn’t feed them very well, I don’t think. [Q: laughs]. That’s my sister ….
Q: Anyway, you must be getting tired. I‘ll come back another day, perhaps ….
Mrs R: No. Come when you like, love. That’s my sister.
Q: Don’t want to rush through it all. You’ve got some lovely photos, haven’t you?
Mrs R: See, there’s another one of the cottage [looking at photographs; cottage since demolished; approx. where garage is now next to 127 Powershall End; see picture 6]. (Q: Oh yes.). I’d just lost Mother then. That little girl belonged to a person over the road. She died a fortnight after then. Unfortunately.
Q: Mm. Yes, I see the vine there, that’s a good one of that, isn’t it? And what, would this be? Would that ….?
Mrs R: That’s a shed [on left]. (Q: The shed, yes, part of the shed.) Father built there to put his wine. (Q: That’s the wine in the shed, yes.) Do you know it was only a four-room cottage but it was lovely and bright and lovely and clean. (Q: Yes.) Really, when you think of it, that stood all by itself, and they’re not today, are they? (Q: No.) Half the houses are not. A little further on, up this way, towards the Victoria, they were very poor old places. (Q: Mmm.) Very down to earth places, you know. (Q: Yes.). But we were ever so happy in those days, although we didn’t get a lot. There’s the two great grandchildren, my brother’s, out in Australia.
Q: Oh, they look very healthy, don’t they?
Mrs R: Now, there’s my sister when she was out first in service. And she made all those dresses [picture 7; at Bright’s on Market Hill, Maldon].
Q: Goodness me. Yes.
Mrs R: She’s the lady’s maid. There’s the cook and there’s the housemaid. And that’s at Gerald Bright’s mother’s and father‘s.
Q: Oh, I see. That’s marvellous, isn’t it? Look at that table, eh? [Q laughs].
Mrs R: Yes. She made all those dresses, they’re old-fashioned dresses aren’t they? For today, (Q: Yes.) aren’t they, really? There’s me with my first great grandchild. (Q: laughs.) She’s married and got two girls of her own, now. (Q: Mm. [laughs]). The thing that you would have been interested in is the things in that paper, I think. More than anything.
(Noises on tape)
There’s me, there’s me rent book, I brought it
Q: You’ve kept all them, that’s interesting, isn‘t it?
[Speakers appear to be moving about and sound is distorted]
Mrs R: Yes. Well, those first ones are. I got them down to tell you the truth today, because I wanted to count them out all together. You see what’s inside of them. See how, see how we had to pay that time of the day [looking at rent books]. Different to what they do today.
[Noises on tape]
Q: Twelve and six, yes. That’s nineteen forty-four, isn’t it? Twelve and six [laughs].
Mrs R: Yes, er, I came up here in nineteen twenty-five [9 Cressing Road; council house]. (Q: Yes.) Nineteen twenty five. I came up here. [Pause]. I wonder if I’ve got some more photographs in there. I don’t think I have.
Q: That’s some more .… yes.
Mrs R: That’s the little daughter in law. (Q: Yes, I‘ve seen that one, yes.) I lost the dear boy. (Q: I’ve seen a picture of her, yes.) In the war. See. (Q: Mmm.) She’s a sweet little thing. The rent man, we’ve got a rent man. (Q: Yes.) His name is Tom. Tom Morrant[?] I understand. And, he was like a father to all of us, old ladies. Just like a father. And I had such a pleasure last Friday, he came and he brought his wife to see me. And I was thrilled to see his little wife. She’s a sweet little thing. We always liked that old, I say old. He’s not that all that old [Q: laughs]. But he’s very good. He’d always take up our troubles and see we got sorted out, you know.
Q: That was when you sort of first came here, you mean? (Mrs R: No!) Or recently.
Mrs R: No, just recently. (Q: Oh, sorry.). And he was a good man, he was. These young ones are not like that, you know? He’s a nice man, what comes, but not like that. [Pause]
Q: Yes, you’ve done well, to keep those.
Mrs R: I don’t know what date this is, I’m sure. But it’s the holy [???]
Q: Church collections.
Mrs R: [???? indistinguishable]
Mrs R: ???? was, I’m sure.
Q: [laughs] Witham phone number. Witham nine two [laughs]
Mrs R: Do you know, in those days, in my young day, I, Father, I don’t remember Father having it. But, er, in the first house, along of there, along Powershall End, from the Victoria, next – , just before you got to the Victoria, there was a cottage there [Powershall End]. There was a man, man French, lived there and a Mrs French. And I wasn’t very old. And Father used to go every night. ’Cos he was ill. Used to go every night. And lift him, off of one bed on to another. So that he could get washed and changed. And I was horrified. I shall never forget it. They evidently were on ‘the parish’. See. Well, when I say ‘the parish’, dear. That was a very very small money. And the dreadful man that come round with that. And I heard him say. He went in. I heard him say ‘This is the last week I’m going to bring you any money. You won’t get another half a crown next week. You’d better get up and get to work’. And he was ill. So ill, that my father used to go and, I tell you, he couldn’t lift him up. He had to find – another man the other end of the sheets and put him over the bed like that. I thought, how dreadful. And I can remember, and that was half a crown, they got and it’d got to last them the week. (Q: Mm mm.) See dear. So you see .…
Q: Who was that, that used to come round?
Mrs R: That was from the Braintree Union people. Poor law, see. (Q: Yes.) When I came up here [9 Cressing Road, in 1925], the travellers used come quite a lot along of here, purposely to go to Braintree Union. On their way, you see, to Braintree Union. You’d often have them coming round to the door, for a drop of hot water. In the cans, on their way. (Q: Yes.) They’d make theirselves something to drink, you see. I never once, thank God, I never once refused them. (Q :No.) I used to think to myself, they’d got to walk all the way to Braintree. And that wasn’t a very nice place, there, that time of the day.
Q: What, they’d stop in there, in the Union?
Mrs R: They’d stop in there, you see. Get a night’s rest, there. (Q: Yes.) But, at that time of the day, you see, dear, you didn’t get any, sort of money, unless you went to ‘the parish’ as they called it. (Q: No.). And that money, I remember him, he only got a half a crown a week to keep him and his wife. And I don’t know they’d got any children at that time of the day, I think they’d got one or two at home at the time, that time. That’s all they’d get you see. They wouldn’t get no more.
Q: And that was when you were young? (Mrs R: Well.) This was the one your father (Mrs R: Went and helped, yes), helped, yes.
Mrs R: Lived in the first house as you come from the Vic. Name was French, that time of the day. (Q: Yes.) [Pause]
So you see, dear, they was hard times, weren’t they? (Q: Yes.) Really. (Q: Yes.) But we .…
Q: As you say, you didn’t have anything to fall back on., if you were .…
Mrs R: You see, now, today, they can go on the Social Security and some of them get a dreadful lot out of Social Security. (Q: Mmm.) But that time, I wonder what they’d think of half a crown, (Q: Mmm.) to live on. I mean, they’d got to pay their rent. The rent weren’t much, I know. But on the other hand, you’d got pay a percentage of it, hadn’t you?
Q: So I wonder why this fellow thought he could go out to work, then, just sort of ….?
Mrs R: Well, that, that’s how they bullied you, you see. (Q: To see if he could, sort of thing, yes.) Yes. That’s how they bullied you.
Q: So I suppose, mm, what sort of people would get the church ….? I suppose it would get the church, help from the church?
Mrs R: They wouldn’t get any help from the church, dear.
Q: Not if they were on the parish. I mean, I said, not so much the church, but like you said, Miss Luard used to help and Miss erm ….
Mrs R: Mrs Percy Brown [of Collingwood House, 15 Collingwood Road]. But they’d only help the confinements, them two. (Q: Oh, I see, yes.) But on the other hand, you could get a milk ticket, sometimes. (Q: Mmm.). Or you could get a meat ticket. But that wouldn’t be very much. (Q: That would be off ….) That would be about one and six, I suppose.
Q: That would be off the .…? From ….? Where would you get that?
Mrs R: Well, I suppose you’d get that from the, er, church people. (Q: Yes.) I forget who’d give you them now. But there used to be what they called the ‘Pence Ladies’ come round. They’d be the ladies of Witham. They’d come along and collect these few coppers each week. They’d give you one. If they thought it was a deserving case. Otherwise, they wouldn’t. Or you’d have to go in front of some of the big pots in Witham. Before they’d let you have that, you see. (Q: Oh.) Mind you, the gentry, some of the gentry in Witham then, that time of the day, were very good to the poor people. Very good. I remember there was a lady lived along of there, by Cullens’s houses [16 Chipping Hill], there. In one of those houses there. They were rather well-to-do. I remember her giving me a pair of shoes one day. To go to school in. Because often I used to have to go with Mother’s shoes. Mother’d have a pair of shoes. And (Q: What, you’d have her shoes, you say, as well?) Yes, and, I’ll always remember she gave me a nice pair of shoes. you know? Sometimes she’d give you, a, a dress or something like that, you see. (Q: Yes.). Often and often I’ve gone to school in my mother’s shoes. (Q: Really. Yes.). I hadn’t got any shoes. Often. Those, those were bad times, you see. They‘re not today, like that. (Q: No.) They get everything they want today. They don’t know what that is, you know.
Q: So, where would you get, where would she get her shoes, I wonder, your mother?
Mrs R: Well, when she did want the last pair of shoes, I’ll always remember this. You know where I’m talking about Abbott’s, on that hill [55 Chipping Hill]. Well, he used, there used to be a man there make shoes, you see. So I remember my father saying ‘Yes, I’ll get you a pair of shoes’. Oh, they had to go out and work to get the money. You see. When he brought them home, do you know what? They were full of hobnails. He said ‘You won’t wear them out very quick’. [both laugh] I’ll always remember that. (Q: Yes.) See. I thought, how dreadful, poor old Mother, having to wear them shoes with hobnails, but she never murmured. (Q: No.) See, they were very good to go out in the fields with, you see. (Q: Yes.) But she’d got to wear them all the time.
Q: Yes. And what about your father’s shoes? I wonder?
Mrs R: He would, he would save up and have these made, there, at Abbott’s. (Q: Yes.) He did do that. Yes. He would do that. When you’d get the harvest in, you see, dear. They’d got extra money. (Q: Yes.) And, he’d save that up, and buy them then. Chance time, we’d get a pair of boots then, or a pair of shoes. According to what harvesting he’d done [at Powershall] They did have extra money, cos you see, they had to work at very, from light to dark. When they were harvesting, you see. (Q: Mmm.) And I used to have to take up his dinner, and I always remember, I took it up in the basin. Mother’d cook it, and that had have to have a red cloth over the top of it, tied up with a red cloth. I had to take that up to him. At the farm. He’d be at the farm. And as a child, you know, one of the chickens was laying in the barns. And I thought ‘I bet you‘ve got some eggs underneath you’. So I huzzled[?] the doors and I got the eggs and hat and went told, took them to Father. [both laughing] Course, I was out that farm pretty quick, I don’t mind telling you. That was setting you see, and I didn’t know. (Q: No, of course, yes.) I didn’t, I was too small to understand that. (Q: No.) It belonged to one of the Miss Hutley’s and she was setting her hen [Q: laughs.] And I huzzled the door and got the eggs in this hat of mine. and took them to Father. ‘Ohhhh,’ I said ‘Dad, look at lovely, we got eggs.’ He soon hustled me off the farm. [Mrs R laughs]. He put the eggs back and soon hustled me off the farm. I always remember that. (Q: laughs.) They were laying in the barn, you see. As a child he’d put me in the drill – drill box and take me up and down the fields, to get me away from Mother, sometimes, you know. (Q: Yes.). Cos you see, she’d got another one after me, you see. (Q: Quite, yes.) See.
Q: Did you mind that, do you think?
Mrs R: No. But, do you know, dear, when I was talking about Grannie, my father’s mother. We, I had to go every Sunday morning to the chapel. And it was a little chapel down Maldon Road, called ‘The Peculiars’ [39 Maldon Road, now Freemasons’ lodge]. (Q: Mmm.) And that, I’d to, go to the Vicarage and get a chair that had got two wheels at the back and one at the front and a handle on that [Old Vicarage, Chipping Hill]. To guide it. I used to go there. That was a penny. To hire that for the day. One penny. (Q: Mmm.) And I used to go and get that on a Sunday morning and I used to get in that and go down that hill and over the bridge in that. [Chipping bridge]. [both laugh]. Well, I had to go, push Grannie, with Grandfather, all the way to this chapel. But she would go round, the Brain-, er, the Avenue Road. I forgets the name of the seed people that was there then [Cooper Taber]. They had a lovely garden in the front, you see, showing off their seeds. (Q: I see.) And I always had to push her round that way. (Q: Uh huh.) And, er, we could go to this chapel and we’d stop there all day. They’d take their dinners. And stop there all day, and I’d have to push her home. (Q: gasps.) And I’d have to take that chair (Q: Goodness.) back when I got home at night.
Q: Did you have to go in the chapel, with her? As well?
Mrs R: Oh, I had to, I’d to go to the chapel. (Q: Yes.) Mother made me go to the Sunday school there. you see. (Q: Yes.) So I was brought with the Old Peculiars, you see.
Q: I see. What, your father and mother were (Mrs R: Peculiars, yes.) Peculiars, yes.
Mrs R: I was at this chapel. I went down to this chapel, just before Pop died, I think. And I wasn’t aware of this. And, er, I went to the service there. After we’d lost Mother. And, um, they were rare Peculiars. They wouldn’t cook on a Sunday, you know. (Q: Mmmm.) Oh no. You’d have to have everything cold on a Sunday. They wouldn’t even cook a potato. And, er, I heard this minister say. He was giving out the thanks of the big bible that he was reading from. From Mr Turner. [Pause] That was a gift from Father. So he’d got enough money to buy that. (Q: Yes.) I think they’ve still got it. They were reading in the desk [???]. (Q: Mmm, yes.) I thought, well that was lovely of Dad (Q: Yes.) anyhow. Cos he was alive you see and married when I was up here. (Q: Yes.) I’d got the children. And every child I had, he came to see me. And he’d give me thirty shillings. (Q: Really?). Always give me thirty shillings.
Q: How long did he live to, your father?
Mrs R: Oh, he lived a good old age, really. (Q: Yes.) Cos he retired some years before. Poor old boy. He was eaten up with arthritis. You see, I suppose that’s where I get it from. (Q: Yes.) I see the son, he’s… (Q: They say it’s passed on.) The son, he’s started. And I said ‘However did you get this?’ So they said it was inherited. He said ‘You’ve got it’ I said ‘Yes’ He said ‘Well, I’ve got it.’ (Q: Mmm.) He brought me in a piece of Jubilee piece today (Q: Oh, really?) Yes (Q: That’s nice for you.) I’ve hardly looked at it yet. I forgot, but I’ll tell you why. The nurse came in. You see, as he came in.
Q: Oh yes, you said, yes.
Mrs R: So I didn’t have much chance to talk to him. But this Miss Pattisson I was telling you about, was very good to him [Charlotte Pattisson, 16 Collingwood Road]. You see, I took him there as a baby. (Q: Yes.) And helped her out. But she was very very good to him. She got him on so he’s got a good job, you know. (Q: Mmm.) She really was very good to him. (Q: Yes.) Because I suppose, really, being a baby there she took to him. (Q: That’s right, yes.)