Miss Florence (Flo) Pavelin was born in 1904. She was interviewed on 15 March 1991 when she lived at 127 Church Street, Witham.
For more information about her, see Pavelin family, including Florence (Flo) in the People category.
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 from transcriber – ‘Miss Pavelin says ‘Of course’ and ‘well’ very often, and I have omitted this on occasion’
Miss P: …my father was a gardener, you see. That’s the Grove House, the big house and he was –well, he was gardener there for a long time. I did have photos of him and there was – now there was a lot of staff in that house, butlers, cooks housemaids, parlourmaids, and all the gardeners and they were all on a big photo. Well, I’d had them out to show somebody, somebody wanted to know and I was ill at the time. And Dr Foster came. Of course, he picks up all these photos, he was interested in them. The next I knew the photo of all the Grove people was in the Braintree & Witham Times!
Q: Oh, I saw it in there, yes. That was yours, was it? [JG’s photo M3019]
Miss P: Yes, that was mine. And I’ve never had it back. (Q: Oh dear.) And my father was on there. Because he said ‘Was my mother …?’ –because my mother was a cook in Witham as well, but she wasn’t on there. But I was sorry about that, I enquired about it quite a few times. But they didn’t know whether he’d had it back and he’d still got it or not, you see.
Q: Because I’ve got the one out of the paper, I could give you a copy of that one. But it’s never so good in the paper itself is it?
Miss P: No. It’s not like the other one.
Q: Oh dear, you have had a lot of bad luck, haven’t you? [Miss P laughs]
Miss P: Yes, now that was to do with these. Because this is all about Witham Lodge. I don’t know whether you are interested in Witham Lodge? Well, it was Witham – the old Witham Lodge, Sir William and Lady Luard lived there. (Q: Oh goodness.) [showing photos, copies are JG’s photos M314, M315, M316]. And that’s their silver wedding, and this is their golden wedding at the church. But he was a lovely man. I knew him when I was small. My grandfather was gardener at The Lodge, too. And that was the gardener’s house at the top of the hill. That’s my grandmother there [showing photos, copies are now JG’s photos M294-M297). But of course they’re pulled down now.
Q: Whereabouts is that then?
Miss P: Up the top of Lodge Hill. You know where you go up to the farm – well, at the top of the hill there’s the farm there. Well, that stood –there was a pump out there. I don’t know if you can see the pump, I don’t think that’s taken. But they were just at the top of the hill on the right-hand side just before you get to Lynfield cafe. And of course, they are all pulled down. But he used to walk – I used to go up to my grandmother’s up there. And when we lived at The Grove – as I said I was born in that Grove House – my mother used to put me on a little trolley – well cart. Moore’s the carriers from Kelvedon used to come through twice a week with two little ponies. They used to be carriers that go from Kelvedon to Chelmsford. Well, she used to put me on that cart with him. And give me a letter tied with string, because he wasn’t allowed to carry letters. [laughs] It had to be a parcel! That’s how it was done up. And I used to go up and spend the day and then my father or mother or someone, well they both used to come and pick me up at night. But he used to take me on this cart and I used to love that sitting on there! It was sort of like a covered wagon, it was really. And he always used to buy me an ice cream, a pink ice cream when we got to Ellis’s shop that was at the bottom of the town. That’s a motor thing now. (Q: I know where you mean [151-153 Newland Street]) And one day when I was up there, they – the hounds had met. Well, we didn’t know about that. And she sent me down – my grandmother sent me down to meet my grandfather to come up the hill. And between him and her, the hounds had met at The Lodge and all come out The Lodge drive. And I was halfway down that hill, about four years old. (Q: Oh!) Well, it didn’t really bother me, I wasn’t sort of frightened. But suddenly over the fence, over the hedge come Sir William Luard! And he picked me up, and put me on his shoulder! [laughs]. And all the hounds and the horses went by, until they came along.
Q: Lovely. You were quite small then, were you?
Miss P: I was about four. Yes. Yes. That was lovely. But of course, he had an accident with his horse. And he hadn’t – this marvellous – [???]. Of course, I was at school after that. Oh, that’s the church, Chipping Hill church. Where they were all – with the bridesmaids and all that. [Luard Golden wedding pictures again]
Q: Did you go to see…?
Miss P: We had a tea party. For this. I don’t really know. I think it was a street party. I can’t remember that much about that. But I can remember my mother taking me down and I can remember having some cakes. Because it was funny because we’d been down there and it was just – and that was 1908. I hadn’t started school, because I was only four.
Q: This was April 1908. What year were you born then?
Miss P: 1904. In May 1904 so I was just …
Q: Just before you were four. You’ve got a good memory then, haven’t you, to go back that far?
Miss P: Yes. I remember it. I often sit, you know, and think all about it and think about all these sort of happenings. And what happened. And then, when he died [Admiral Luard]– his horse shied down at the bottom of – well, he hit the lamppost or telegraph post at the bottom where Mill Lane comes out into the High Street. And he died after that. But he had a marvellous funeral. With the town band – of course Witham had a town band then. And they played. And the wreaths were all the way along hanging on the gas lamps. They were sort of – and crowds. But I was at school then. Because they brought us out and lined us all up – because I went to All Saints school, church school. And they lined us all up as the funeral went down. Of course, the band was playing the Dead March, we all thought that was marvellous, us kids! [laughs]. But of course then the next excitement we had of marching out and turning out was when the Constitutional Club caught fire.
Q: Oh, you were there then, were you?
Miss P: Yes. They marched us out of school, across the road and down the town and round Mill Lane. So we saw the fire. And we had good fun after that. Because they brought all the bricks and rubble and put in Chess Lane. The lane which was at the side of our house. But of course that just pleased us kids. We used to pick up all the coloured glass and spread it all out. And we’d build houses with the brick. [laughs]. So we had a good time over that. But of course, school time that was.
Q: Was that actually on fire when you went past?
Miss P: Yes, the fire engine was there. Yes. Oh yes. That was during the morning. Yes. And of course, the horses that pulled the fire engine then were the Witham Cartage horses that used to be in that – along there in Collingwood Road. They used to pull the coal carts and that about. They used to have to catch them. And in the summertime they used to be in the meadow down the ‘Knicky Knocks’ and the men used to have to go down the meadow and catch the horses and bring them up and saddle them up to the fire engine before they could go to a fire! [laughs]
Q: And where was the fire engine then?
Miss P: The fire engine was kept down at the back of The Swan. There, where the old fire station was.
Q: It’d take them quite a time then, mustn’t it?
Miss P: Yes, oh yes.
Q: So can you remember what it was like when you saw the building? Was there much left of it?
Miss P: There wasn’t, no there wasn’t very much. There was people – what I do remember seeing, because Beard’s shop was next door, a hardware, ironmongery shop [88 Newland Street]. And they carried – Mrs Beard had been in bed with a new baby. And they carried her out, because it was right close up. Because there was only a little alleyway that led up the back to the chapel, of course the chapel is still there. That was at the back of the Constitutional Club, so that was that.
Q: Do you remember anything about the Constitutional Club before …?
Miss P: No, no. I just knew it was there because I knew there was a clock. I always knew there was a clock on there. And of course, that got burned down. And of course, the next time they gave Witham a clock or Witham had a clock, it was put on Barclays Bank. That’s the old Barclays Bank.
Q: And when you said about the Knicky Knocks for the horses, was that down the Maldon Road way?
Miss P: Down the Maldon Road, but I think it’s all built – I don’t think they’ve got that going now.
Q: How did you used to get there?
Miss P: We lived in the town then. And after – because my father had to go in the First World War and we moved out of The Grove cottages and we moved in to – Ardley’s Yard they called it – the house still stands there – I saw it when I went down the doctor’s the other day. Between the doctor’s and Ardley’s the bakers used to be – we lived up the back there. So that was where – [behind 137 Newland Street].
Q: Is that the one with the red and black bricks on it? If you go into the doctor’s you are opposite the side of it. You can see it from the doctor’s.
Miss P: You mean from the doctor’s waiting room. You can see it across the back of that sort of [???]. Yes.
Q: Was that because he wasn’t working at The Grove then, that you had to move?
Miss P: He went into the army and he wasn’t sort of working, and the War came along and Mr Laurence, he got rid of a lot. Because there was quite a lot worked there and they got rid of a lot. And I think – I don’t know what happened. Because that war sort of spoilt everything, really, then. So until the War was over and my father came out of the army and then of course he worked in – he worked at Wakelins. He got a job as gardener at Freebournes. He was gardener there. So we’ve always been – there was – there’s me silver cups that I’ve won for gardening.
Q: Is that what they are?
Miss P: Yes, got my name on. [laughs] The big one, I won it three times. Most points in the show. And see, the fourth time I won it, it was mine! I had to keep it. The other one – the little one was for a collection of vegetables. And the other one was for pot fuchsias. Because I used to do all this garden. We – they moved – when my parents moved out of Ardley’s Yard, they moved down into Bridge Street. Of course, we had a terrible flood there, that was in 1939. And the Council moved them up there into this house. This was being built and they got it sort of fixed up and finished off and – my father died in 1940, just sort of beginning of the war. And I took the house over. They and Mr Crook gave me – because my mother only got ten shillings a week widow’s pension. And I was earning more money so I took the house over and that was that. And went to work at the Co-op and then of course everybody – all my brothers and sisters all got married and I’ve been left on my own [laughs] I’m the old aunt!
Q: How many brothers and sisters did you have then?
Miss P: Well, I had three brothers. I’ve only got one now, my brother John that was here. Did you know them?
Q: I think I knew her, I’ve seen her a while back.
Miss P: Oh, Women’s Institute and that. And John, he’s about everywhere. He’s a big ‘bowls’ man. He likes playing bowls. But my sister died, she died with cancer. My brother died with cancer. And a brother I had at Hatfield Peverel, he had a heart attack. And funnily enough, I’ve had two heart attacks. I’ve been in Broomfield twice with heart- and I had a stroke, so – and yet I’m the oldest! [laughs].
Q: Really? It’s all that gardening!
Miss P: Well, I used to do all this garden, dig it all, plant it all. And when they put those garages at the bottom, they were coming along past the gardens and they actually staked my garden out. But I’d got so much stuff in the garden, they left it. Well, they never did come and do it because I would have been glad to have got rid of the garden. But then they took a bit of the garden away from me, but I – well, I couldn’t cope with it. I can’t do the garden now. I can’t cope with it. But – that’s just used as a rubbish dump down the bottom there. Everybody brings up – I saw something the other day and I walked up the top – took my stick and walked up the top. Somebody’s put a – there’s a settee in there and there’s a washing line, rotary washing line, that’s in there. Well, besides people just – and then in the bottom of my garden there, there’s loads of trees that people have sawed down and put them in my garden! That’s all the rubbish! I did ask the Council to come and take it away. They said they would but they never did. You never get much off Witham Council! [laughs]. So – but of course they’ve been talking about putting a road through there. But I see in the paper this week they’re not going to do it because it’s going to cost.
Now a man did offer to buy that bit of ground at the bottom of my garden and concrete it and put a garage on. But some of them up the road – which it didn’t interfere with them at all, I expect they were afraid they couldn’t get through and run through and run all over it. They said ‘No’, they didn’t want it built there and a garage. Well, it wouldn’t have made any more difference, it’s only just an extension of those garages along the bottom there. Instead of that, that bit of ground there was left. Now they could have sold that last year. That man would have cleared it by now and got a garage on there. And now that’s all such a filthy lot of rubbish. But there’s supposed to be a Mr Suckling[?] coming to see me. I’m going to have a go at him when he comes! And see what he says about it.
Q: How did you learn all this gardening?
Miss P: Well, of course, from my fathers and my grandfathers and that. And we were always brought up – we always had our own garden when we were little and our own plots and sort of thing.
Q: Because when you said The Grove cottages it’s the one that’s actually in the lane was it, that’s pulled down now? That you lived in? The Grove cottages?
Miss P: Yes. They’re there now!
Q: Oh, the ones that are there now.
Miss P: They’re still there. Right along there on the front.
Q: On the main road there? (Miss P: Yes.) Were they all people who worked at The Grove?
Miss P: They were all Grove people. The woman next door to us was the laundry woman. And then there was a gardener. The butler lived at the top. [whispers] Ellison[?], [???] Oh and the coachman, he lived there. Well, the electrician man lived in a little bungalow that’s the Conservative bungalow that’s at the top of The Grove now. He lived in there. And he used to open the big gates when they were going to bring the carriages through. Because – now I saw in the paper this week that the Conservative Club want to pull – there’s one big pillar left there. They want to pull that down and extend that bungalow but they haven’t been granted permission.
Q: Was there a pillar on both sides?
Miss P: Both sides, yes, yes. But I mean, that was meadows both sides. There was no houses – never got to a house till you got to Round’s house in Newland Street. Along all that side, you see, because they had the Agricultural Show there in 19 – when was that? 1910. We had great fun then. With all the big – Essex County Show that was, in that corner. Yes, oh yes.
Q: What can you remember about that?
Miss P: Oh, well, that was wonderful! My father put a notice on our gate ‘Bicycles’. I don’t know what that was, now. Anyhow, he took in bicycles, tuppence a time! And we had the garden, all up the back. [both laugh] People had – because everybody – there was no motor cars or anything then. They were all bicycles. They were all running – we had no end of bicycles all parked in there. And of course they all went to the show. And the last one out at night – my father had to sit up till eleven o’clock before the last man came to pick up his bicycle! And he’d been celebrating! But it was – of course, watching everything in and all the people, that was great for us. And we used to stand on the – because I’d got my brother then, my brother Jim – stood on a – we had a sofa under the front room window, stood on there. And there was a policeman on the corner. Well, we never took very kindly to policemen because that was – you know, people used to say ‘If you’re not good, a policeman will come’ or ‘We shall tell the policeman’. We didn’t like the idea of that policeman standing outside our house. Until about teatime my father asked him to come in and have a cup of tea! Poor man and oh, he was such a nice man, we loved policemen ever after! [both laugh] He was a lovely man. Yes, we had all that.
Q: So you watched it all from the window?
Miss P: We watched most of it all, yes, from the window. There was a fair there, we went into The Avenue. All the other side of The Avenue, I think, the fair was. My father took us along there, because we thought he was ever so wonderful. It was the other side of The Avenue, where the fair was. He got a coconut, he knocked a coconut off and of course we went back with it. That was wonderful.
Q: Did they have the same sort of things as they do now at the fair? (Miss P: Yes) Was there roundabouts and things?
Miss P: Yes, coconut shies and roundabouts, the big horses. Yes, that was where I first had a ride on the big roundabouts. My father took me on the horse. And I sat on and he held me on. That was the first. And of course they had little roundabouts. And they used to have stalls for darts and hoop-la and throwing the hoops over the things. Of course they weren’t at the same stage as they are these days but – that used to be lovely. That used to be plenty for Witham people to do. Plenty to see. We used to have the Salvation Army band come and play in the town every Saturday evening after tea. And when you go down the town now Saturdays there’s not a soul in the town, is there? Shops were all open, everybody was out, listening. The women selling ‘The War Cry’. All the shops. Now I did count them. There again, somebody’s got that, I don’t know who. A directory of Essex for 1910. And that used to have pages, there was a lot in there about Witham. I lent that to somebody but I’ve never had it back. I don’t know – I asked the person that I lent it to and they lent it to somebody else and there it goes. But that had got all the shops in the town, all that’s coming up from the town. And there was – starting in Bridge Street, was a butcher’s shop, Brown’s butcher’s shop. And then a hardware shop, Birch’s hardware shop. Then of course there was the tan-yards there. And then, coming across, was the blacksmith’s [130 Newland Street]. And then there was Coates [126-128 Newland Street] which was the clothing shop. And then there was the watchmaker’s shop in that little house – I see that’s been rebuilt [118-120 Newland Street]. Next door to the chemist, opposite the surgery, there was a watchmaker’s there. There was Porters further up, he was a plumber and builder. There was a shoemaker’s shop and a secondhand shop. Then of course there was Bawtree’s [100 Newland Street] which is Batsford now, that was a private house, had lots of maids and all that there. Then there was Beards [88 Newland Street] hardware shop, where the Gas showroom is was Sammy Page’s secondhand shop [86 Newland Street]. Then came the Post Office (Q: You’ve got a good memory, haven’t you?) that was the Post Office [84 Newland Street]. And Miles, next door to that was a drapery shop. Oh, then there was the dentist up the back in Medina Villas [80-84 Newland Street].
Then there was there – oh yes, a sort of a delicatessen shop, they used to sell the good sort of stuff. Then there was Francis, grocers, a nice grocer’s shop. London House was the cheap shop of Spurge’s because Spurge’s was the top shop. But London House was – if sort poor people wanted to buy anything they went to – London House you see. Then Bradshaws [72 Newland Street] the clothiers where the – travel shop now. And Affords [70 Newland Street] the stationers. Across the road was another drapery shop. There was Bellamy’s on the corner [64 Newland Street]. And then there was Lewis’s, that was a private house, big private house. Norris’s was a teashop, baker’s shop. My mother used to go in there and buy me sponge fingers, they used to be lovely. Goodchilds the butchers, Dowsetts, the shoemakers. Then there was a clothing shop, well Mr Turner took that over [I’ve forgotten who had that in the first place] There was the Home & Colonial, Luckin Smith’s, Gage’s, and Witham Corn & Seed Stores. Then there was a furniture warehouse. Then it came to Spurge’s, [42 Newland Street] their drapery store and then they had a grocery store attached to that. Poor people didn’t go there. That was for all the rich people. And on the corner was Winch, Bob Winch had that, that was another paper shop. [40 Newland Street] And the Glover’s cycle shop round the corner where the Electric is now, you see [38 Newland Street]. That was Glover’s. So we had all those shops on one side of the road. Now there’s hardly one there now, is there?
Q: And was that when you were a little girl, mostly that you are talking about? Or…?
Miss P: Yes, well, right up to – nearly up to before the War. How long have you lived in Witham? (Q: Oh, only since 1966.) Oh, yes. Of course a lot of them all went – well, then on the other side of the road from The Lion, there was Mrs Rowe, she had a wool shop. Then there was King’s the sweet shop. [13 Newland Street] Then there was Collins Lane – somebody come and knocked at my door the other day and asked me where Collins Lane was. Because they’re going to do some building up there, aren’t they? That’s that little alleyway between that and the bridal shop now. Well, that used to be Cutts, the fish shop. That was sort of there. Then there was Brands the bakers next to that. Then a hardware shop. Then there was Brown’s antique shop [37 Newland Street]. Then there was the – we used to call him the horse doctor, he was a vet, he lived there. He had a house, and of course the White Hart. Then from the White Hart on the corner was the Angel [39 Newland Street]. Then there was the Continental meat shop next to that. Then there was the International, then Palmer’s leather saddlers’ shop. Then there was North’s private house then that come to the Spread Eagle. Well, then from there – oh, there was a greengrocer’s shop next across the side of the Spread Eagle yard [51 Newland Street]. Then there were private houses until – oh, and a doctor’s, a Dr Coombes lived there. The Midland Bank of course got built from that there. There was a children’s home [59 Newland Street] – see, that is Barclays Bank now, ain’t it? They used to take in – two sisters lived in there used to take in children. Then of course Mondy’s [63 Newland Street] – of course Mondy’s has been there for years. There was another big furniture shop joining that, Rice’s and another little greengrocer’s shop on the corner, Ingram’s greengrocers shop. I mean, they were there right up till – oh, about 1937 time. And then there was Burrell’s the bakers which was later Palmer’s, [83 Newland Street] well, that’s not there now, is it?
Then another greengrocer’s shop by the side of Bright’s offices. And then there was Patten’s, that was a fancy shop. Used to sell dolls and all that things and they turned it into a teashop. Then Mr Holt bought it and made a sort of a snack bar of it. And then of course it come down – oh, and then King’s on the corner of Kings Chase. He used to be an old man there named King. Used to make candles. And he lived on that corner there. Of course, that’s all incorporated now – and of course, there was the Co-op. The Co-op stores and there wasn’t any more. The big house next door [117 Newland Street] – they used to have a parrot there and it used to call ‘Ethel’ all the time. [Q laughs] You could hear it calling and their maid was Ethel. And I saw her out one day and she’d broken her arm. So I said ‘How do you get on with your work and that?’ So she said ‘I can do everything as except sweep the stairs down’. So I said ‘I’ll come and sweep the stairs down for you!’ There were two sets of stairs, so she just laughed. Well, in the afternoon, the lady’s companion that they had there came down and said to my mother that I’d offered to sweep their stairs down for them! [laughs] Of course my mother didn’t know anything at all about it! Well, anyhow, she said ‘She can come and do it’. So I used to go every Saturday morning and sweep their stairs down and I used to get sixpence! [laughs]
Q: Well done! How old were you then, about, was that when you were quite small?
Miss P: No, I suppose I was about ten or eleven.
Q: Very enterprising, wasn’t it? (Miss P: Yes.) What were the people like that lived there then?
Miss P: That was Beadel. Joe Beadel, don’t know if you’ve come up against them? (Q: No.) That was him and then a sister, an old sister and a housekeeper and a ‘lady’s companion’ and then they’d got this Ethel that was just …
Q: I think I’ve seen a photograph of the back of their house with a lady who was probably the sister. Was it Miss Beadel? (Miss P: Probably.) and then a housekeeper. What was the housekeeper’s name?
Miss P: The housekeeper was Ethel.
Q: It might be her. I’ll have to show you that.
Miss P: That was that. Then of course there was – oh, then there was old Miss Jewell, she was a dressmaker. She saw me there one day sweeping the stairs and she asked me if I would sweep her steps. Well, she’d got sort of two doors with two lots of steps. So I used to go there. But I used to do needlework, a lot of needlework and knitting and that. And I used to go up there in the evenings to her. She used to do whole bridesmaids’ – brides’ trousseaus, make all their underclothes, and all their dresses and that.
And during the war, this was before the War finished [First War] well, I suppose – yes, because I was coming up – because I was confirmed in 1917 at the church. And coming up to that somehow somebody got hold of a wartime blanket and it was a purpley colour. And she cut it out and I used to go up there in the evenings with her and made that coat. She used to put the big seams on with all the tackings and all that. And I wore that the day I was confirmed. It was deep snow that day.
And of course there was the doctor’s [129 Newland Street] and then there was Ardley’s the baker’s. I don’t know what that is now. Then there was the butter shop, we called it, which was Maypole at that time. That’s a wine shop now, I think I saw the other day.
Q: Yes, I think there is one down there.
Miss P: And then there was a pub, the Carpenters Arms [141 Newland Street]. They used to have an old man come there. He used to go about with one of these travelling bears. (Q: Really?) And he used to stable it up the back there. Because when we were living in Ardley’s Yard we could see it, this great old big bear. And he used to come out and train it in the mornings, sort of before he went off. He used to go round to shows and things. (Q: Goodness.) Of course, that’s pulled down and there’s a dentist’s there now. [141 Newland Street] Then there was Sorrell’s the butcher’s. Then there was another little shop, little – Billy Woods’, we used to call him. He was just a little ordinary shop. Then there was Glover’s, they had a workshop there. And then there was Ellis’s which was the sweet shop in those days. And that finished, until the Swan. (Q: Goodness) Now we had all those shops in Witham and now if you want to go and buy anything in the drapery line, or anything you’ve got to go to Chelmsford or Colchester! You can’t get a thing!
Q: Which ones did you used to go to most, yourselves?
Miss P: We used to go to the Co-op – and London House was our shopping. They were sort of what we could afford. And of course, my mother and them, they were all Co-op people. We always went there. And we used to have the ‘Co-op treats’. They used to have the Co-op treat days. Start up by The Avenue and have the band – town band. We had a beautiful town band. March down, up the Rec Chase, we called it, into that meadow there. And they used to have old Randall’s engines boil the water for tea. They used to have the Co-op treat, we used to have a lovely time. Of course, that all went! That was all done for the children for the Co-op members and that.
Q: So you had to be a member, did you?
Miss P: That was for members’ children, yes, Co-op members.
Q: But were most people members?
Miss P: Most people were, ordinary people, sort of ordinary working people were Co-op members.
Q: You say ordinary working people. Was your father, he was the gardener, he was the head gardener? [at the Grove]
Miss P: He was the second gardener.
Q: The second gardener? How many did they have then?
Miss P: They had – Bell was the head gardener, my father was the second gardener. Then there was another gardener, a Mr Heard. Then there was the garden boy who was apprenticed. [she says (clearly)‘apprenticed’ – but then. goes on to say (clearly)‘His name was Prentis’]. There was four or five gardeners, anyhow. That used to be – sometimes if I was extra good, my father’d take me. Because they used to have a pony and cart and take all the decorations up – sort of Easter time, all the arum lilies and all the decorations up to decorate the church. And if I was very good sometimes he would take me with him, you see. And that used to be lovely riding in this little trap with all the flowers to decorate the church. Of course there was nothing there, I mean just, the old houses from the Albert down to the corner, on the right hand side. But on the other side there was nothing till Earlsmead was built [in Chipping Hill].
Q: Were you allowed to go in the garden, at The Grove, at all?
Miss P: Yes, we used to be allowed to go round. My father was allowed and so was Bell and that. We were allowed to go and look round Sunday evenings. That was our special treat. And we used to walk round and go in the greenhouses, oh, it used to be marvellous! Yes, I’ve got a photo somewhere of my father and the head gardener, taken in the greenhouses amongst the – I don’t know.
You see, a lot I had – because I have a bookcase stand here. Well, of course they cleared everything out – books, papers and everything on it. I don’t know where anything is! They pulled them all out Saturday night when they [???] things.
Q: I expect they will turn up again.
Miss P: Yes, I expect when I get sorted out, they will.
Q: So was it mostly flowers or did they grow other things?
Miss P: Oh! Vegetables, they’d got a huge great vegetable garden, well, they grew everything! Grew the lot! Did the lot.
Q: So when your family wanted vegetables, what happened?
Miss P: We used to have them from there, from the garden. But of course we always had a garden of our own. My father always kept a garden of his own. (Q: So you had enough?) So we always had – we used to have milk there, you see. Because they kept their own Jersey cows. (Q: Did they?) From their own cows for the milk. And my father used to take the milk can when he went work every morning, bring home fresh milk. We used to have the milk.
Q: Where did they keep the cows then?
Miss P: Well, there’s a meadow – well, of course, I suppose that’s built on now. (Q: At the back?) At the back they used to have a meadow out the back where they used to keep cows and chickens and all that. Because their back entrance was right up the lane, up Chess Lane. Up the side, well, the police station is on where the vegetable gardens were. That was built on there. Because The Grove estate went from that lane right down to Freebournes. And then of course there was lawns and flower gardens and vegetables, there was everything, everything there.
Q: Did you ever go into the house? The Grove House?
Miss P: No. I didn’t – I might have gone into the kitchens. I’ve got a little idea that I went into the kitchens one day and somebody gave me a cake (Q laughs) with a lot of cream in it. I think that was there but I don’t know – but I remember going all round. And they used to have sort of open – because from the side of the house – I don’t know if I’ve got it here … [looking for photos/papers] well, that’s the side of the house. This was all sloping lawns. They used to have band concerts on there sort of Sunday afternoons.
Q: Is this from the back or the front?
Miss P: That’s sort of the side of the house.
Q: Where was the road on this picture?
Miss P: Let’s have a look, where am I. That’s the house there, the front of the house, with the big steps on. (Q: The porch, yes.) Now, this is, this was the side, the main entrance was round here. (Q: On the left, I see.) This was sort of – now the greenhouse, all the conservatories are round on there. This was where it was.
Q: And this little bit sticking out here would be the back?
Miss P: The kitchens were round the other side, right round, this was all private part for the Laurences.
Q: The kitchens were near where your house was?
Miss P: Right round the back, the kitchens were. Miss Laurence was there. She married a Pelly. Miss Laurence – she used to run – they say now there’s nothing for children, and for people to do around here. But there was plenty to do because there was Sunshine Clubs, there was Boys Unions, there was Girls Friendlys, there was the Scouts, our boys were in the Scouts. Our boys were in the choir. There was choir practice one night and church on Sundays to go to and that. We used to have full weeks with plenty to do.
Q: Which were you in?
Miss P: I was in the Girls Friendly, I used to go to the Girls Friendly and the Sunshine Club. Miss Luard used to run the Girls Friendly and Miss Pelly used to run the Sunshine Club. We used to put on plays and that in the old – they had an old army hut down by the side of the Church House [Collingwood Road]. And we used to put on plays and that in there and have a lot of people come. We used to go to Church House for Sunshine Club. And Good Fridays we used to go up to The Lodge gardens, grounds and pick violets and primroses to decorate the church, Chipping Hill church. We always used to do that Good Fridays.
And it nearly always used to be either hail, snow or sleet! [both laugh]. It’s funny because I said to my brother – he took me out Monday afternoon to go round to get some carpet estimates because I’m going to have a new carpet in here. And I said then ‘Do you remember our Good Fridays?’ We always used to have to go primroseing somewhere Good Fridays, to get primroses for the church windowsills. That was ritual. And we used to always come home, my mother used to open a big tall tin of red salmon and we used to have hot cross buns. And that was always our Good Friday tea. [laughs] That’s was all.
[General discussion, not noted]
I used to do – until I – I had a nephew married and I bought a suit but otherwise that was the first thing I bought. I used to make all my own dresses. And knit all my own – this was the last thing I knitted – no, I knitted a red one after this one. All my own jumpers and cardigans and knittings. But I can’t do it now, I can’t see. I’ve got no sight in this eye and this eye – I had shingles about two years ago, and that finished up this eye, so I’ve got no sight now. And I’m deaf in this ear. And then I had the stroke and that finished me up. And I broke my arm and that’s how they set it so I can’t hold the needles.
Q: Did your mother used to sew a lot?
Miss P: Yes, she used to. Yes. We’d got my old granny’s – poor old granny – she died in 1910. And my mother had her sewing machine, and I’ve still got it! It’s a Jones sewing machine, a hand one, twiddle the handle. And I broke a needle in it and I couldn’t get any more needles. And I went to Debenham’s, in Chelmsford – it was Bond’s then – and asked them if they had them and they had them! And they had those Jones sewing machine needles and the firm – there was still a firm in Ilford of those Jones things. But I can’t use it now because I can’t use this hand. The last thing – I finished it all. [???] Would you like to see my school reports?
Q: Oh yes.
[chat, not noted, about sampler she made a year or two previously, gave it to JG who subsequently gave it to Braintree Museum]
Miss P: ….school reports. Today they have fancy books, now don’t they? This one, 1916, that’s a late one. (Q: Is it? Seems a long time ago to me.) 1917, yes, we didn’t have 1918. That was the first one, I’d just gone up then into the school.
Q: This is ‘16, this one comes before, when you were twelve. It looks very good – honours in lots of things. You’ve got ’16, ‘17, (Miss P: This is ’17) March ’17.
Miss P: And this is ’18. This was when I left, that was the end of it.
Q: You left when you were 13?
Miss P: No! I left when I was 14! (Q: That was the last report?) No, I tell you what, I’d got one more after that and the headmistress, Miss Compton, she said she wasn’t putting any remarks on the thing. She did – that was, I think, the first year she said that. But she said as I’d been so good, she’d just put ‘Conduct and work excellent’ or something like that. Well, of course, the girls took the rise out of me for that, you see. Well, the next year she – I had done ever so well, I had got top marks of practically everything. And I forget what she wrote and the girls took it away from me and tore it up and put down the drain in front of the school when we come out! [Q: Aaah.]
Miss P: [laughs]. My mother and father were ever so cross about it. Because they didn’t …
Q: They were jealous, because – were you the best?
Miss P: I was the best, yes.
Q: You must have been, mustn’t you because altogether – ‘213 out of 260’ and eleven honours, that’s the last one.
Miss P: That’s the last one.
Q: [reads] ‘Aged 13, March 1918.’ That was Standard 6. Then you went up to Standard 7, so that must have been …
Miss P: Yes, well, the other one.,
Q: [reads] ‘Conduct and work excellent. 37 in class, position 12’.
Miss P: Because I had a lot of illness. Sort of then and my mother was ill a lot, she had a new baby and I had to stop at home and look after her. And of course I lost marks on the attendance.
Q: But the other one was perfect, was it? (Miss P: Yes.) [laughs] That’s still pretty good isn’t it? [reads] ‘Honours: Recitation; Honours: Dictation & Spelling; Honours: Composition & Letter; Arithmetic and Mental Arithmetic Honours; Writing Honours’. You only got 12 for Needlework, though! (Miss P: Yes.) [Q laughs] That’s funny isn’t it? ‘Drawing 17: Honours; Geography & History Honours.’ What does this one say? Oh, ‘Punctuality (Miss P: Punctuality and attendance.) Yes, that let you down, only 4 out of 20. Yes.
Miss P: Yes, that always let me down.
Q: What a shame, yes.
Miss P: Because if there was anything going round, any tonsillitis, measles, chickenpox or anything like that I always got it! So …[laughs]
Q: That’s a shame, what was the matter with your mother that she was ill so much, then?
Miss P: Well, she – no, well, at that time, when she was ill, she had my brother John. And she didn’t sort of get over it very well. And my father was away in the army and that, you see. So we were sort of on our own.
Q: Were you the oldest?
Miss P: I was the oldest, yes.
Q: Who came next?
Miss P: Then there was my brother Jim from Hatfield, then my brother Dick at Kelvedon and well, he was – he’s just passed away about two years ago. And my brother Jim died last year. And my sister died, because my sister didn’t come along till some time after the War. And you see, yes, because at that time – you see, I’m twelve years older than my brother John. Yes that took account of the time I had to sort of stop at home when the new baby came [laughs].
Q: So you were the only one for quite a long time, were you?
Miss P: No, because there was the younger boy. There was three of us up till – during the war, you see, till John came. There was me, Jim and Dick, the three of us. Then John came sort of in 1917. And Bess came 1923, my sister, but she – well, she died about five years ago. (Q: She was the youngest?) All of cancer. It’s funny, because she worked at St Andrew’s Hospital at Bow – yes, she was married and lived up at Leytonstone. And she worked there for twenty-five years. And she retired when she got to sixty and she was straight away taken ill and she was in Bart’s and that and she was full of cancer. She had no – never had any life after she retired, at all. Sad.
Q: So she must – when the girls left school then, like you leaving school, and her. What did you do straight away from school?
Miss P: First of all I went – I was looking after some children. Reverend Reed, he was at The Parsonage. He’d got a little girl, Mary and I used to go there and wheel her out. Well, then we lived up the doctor’s yard, by the doctor’s [129 Newland Street] they’d got a sort of a manservant and a housekeeper and a maid, sort of general maid/house parlour maid and all that and she was ill. Well, I went in there to help the housekeeper out one day and then Dr Ted said – because the other girl got married. Yes, because I was confirmed with that girl that was there, the maid was there. So I knew her because she used to come to the confirmation classes with me and that. And she left to get married and they wanted somebody and Dr Ted went to see my mother and said would I go? So she didn’t think much about it, but anyhow, I did, I said I would like to go. So, I went. And I used to – well, I was just sort of – I used to have to wait at table and do that. And answer the phone and open the surgery door.
Of course there wasn’t so many people coming into to the surgeries as there is now. Where that little square is where the surgery is now, was the waiting room. And so that was that. Well, then we had another housekeeper come. And I couldn’t get on with her! She used to boss me about terrible! But I mean, I worked and I worked hard. I used to have to get up in the morning and do a big dining room, get the breakfast and I had all the bedrooms to do. All the household mending I had to do and that. And then I used to get a little time to myself in the evenings. Then there was dinner at night. They used to have the doctors – used to have dinner at night. And during the day I was continually running about – I say that’s why I’ve got bad feet now, I reckon! Because I used to be running up and down stairs and running about answering doors and answering phones and doing all that.
Q: How many people lived there?
Miss P: There was the two doctors, Ted and Karl Gimson, lived there. And all the front of the house was all sort of surgeries.
Q: There was you and …
Miss P: Just me and the housekeeper and the man. He used to do the hard work and that – he used to keep the surgeries clean and all that.
Q: So what sort of – did they have dinner in the evening, usually?
Miss P: Yes. They always had dinner at night so you had to do all that.
Q: Did the doctors have the same sort of hours as they do now?
Miss P: Just about. There wasn’t a surgery Thursday evenings and there wasn’t a surgery Sundays. But there was surgeries every other day from nine o’clock to – nine till ten I think they were in the mornings. Then there was the dispenser was there, you see, Mr Appleby. Because they used to do all the medicines and that there. And he used to go home at one o’clock. While he was there he answered the phone and the doorbells. And he used to go home at one o’clock and he used to come back at six for the night surgery and do the – he used to do the bells whilst he was there. But of course if the doctors got called out in the night – they both got called out in the night, They used to come and switch that over into my bedroom. And I bet you every night they were both called out together there’d be something, the old bell would ring and I used to go across the landing and wake up the housekeeper. And her husband used to deal with it, you see. Go down to anybody at the door or the phone or anything.
Q: Did they get a lot of work in the night, then?
Miss P: Yes. Well, there was only the two of them. They did Terling – well they still do, don’t they? Terling, Wickham Bishops, Hatfield Peverel and all round everywhere.
Q: So did you have to have an appointment to go to the surgery?
Miss P: No! No, no. Just come in and sat on the benches. And they used to open the door – ‘Next’ and the next one got in and that was that.
Q: So would the visits …
Miss P: Then Dr Karl used to go up to Bridge Home. He used to go up there. He used to – after, as soon as he’d had his breakfast he use to get his old bike out, that used to be in the front hall. And he used to go up and visit up Bridge Home and see a few patients. Dr Ted used to go out and see a few patients before surgery. They’d come back and then they used to go out on the rounds. And sometimes they didn’t get back for lunch till about four o’clock. Been out on the rounds and that, just the two of them. Then they had another – they had another young doctor come in, a Dr Ryder Richardson. He came in and he took over some of it so that lightened the load a bit. And then of course they started building houses in Witham and people sort of going. But I got on, I was there for about six years.
Q: Was the – the father wasn’t alive when you were there? That must have been earlier on. I remember somebody telling me that their father was the doctor before …
Miss P: He was, yes, old Dr Gimson. No, he wasn’t there. And they had got another brother, Dr Bill [Gimson], he was a doctor at Springfield. So they were all in …
Q: So when you say you and your mother were ill quite a bit, did you have the doctor round to see you?
Miss P: No, they just used to come across the yard.
Q: Of course, yes. [Both laugh] So you used to just pop round and ask someone to come?
Miss P: Yes, someone used to just pop in and they used to just come across. Because my father knew the doctors ever so well because they used to have weekends and have shooting parties. They use to go to on some marshes – there was an old keeper’s cottage on the marshes at Fingringhoe. And they used to go there for a weekend when they got a break or bit light on work, shooting. And they had a boat at Tollesbury too; they used to go out on this boat. Well, my father used to go with them and he used to be the cook. There used to be the doctors – well, only one doctor, probably Dr Ted. There’d be Mr Wakelin and Mr Richardson, Stewart Richardson and Gerald Bright and some of the Cullens. Anyhow, they used to go, so they’d have a house full you see so and they’d shoot and go round on these marshes and be on this boat and then come back and my father would have a big meal cooked for them when they come back at night! [laughs] And they used to have – that was lovely there – the doctors sent the housekeeper, because they had to keep somebody at home. But the housekeeper and I went – they sent us down with one of the cars to Tollesbury and we went and had the day on their boat in the Blackwater. They gave us a treat, that was lovely that was.
Q: That was regularly, or just once?
Miss P: We just did that – that was just a treat one day. We went there because they were talking about it and then they said they would send us. But of course they used to have the nets round the boat and I was ever so lucky there. Old Mills, the old boatman was, the skipper on the boat. And he said’ Pull up that net’ and whether he had arranged it or not, (Q laughs.) but anyhow when I pulled up this net there was a huge great lobster in it. Oh that was lovely. So we brought that home and cooked that and that was lobster, they had it in the dining room and that was lovely. Made a change.
Q: What, you cooked it at the doctor’s?
Miss P: Yes, cooked it in a great big fish kettle. They tied the claws up – it was black you see – we had to pop them in … well, we’d got this lobster and I’d got a duster round it holding it round the back. And the housekeeper stood there with the boiling water and the fish strainer thing – she’d got that in her hands. And we stood – well, we dithered about putting this poor thing – because it was still alive, you see! And we’d got to put it in this boiling water! But, anyhow, I popped it in, she popped the lid on quick [laughs] and it only had to be in there about ten minutes. And it was pink. Yes, that was beautiful, poor thing. [laughs] But of course I got cooking and I got several of them after that. I got interested in cooking and I used to help her a lot. And do it and that and I thought ‘Well,’ … Then we had the new housekeeper come and she wouldn’t let me do any cooking. She wouldn’t do anything and she wasn’t very nice and she wasn’t very good at – well, she didn’t bother about feeding us. Because there was three of us in the kitchen supposed to be fed. But she’d cut a slice of cold meat and pour some hot gravy over it and that ain’t my idea of food and that. So, anyhow, that was – so I thought ‘I’m going to leave and I’m going out and I’m going to cook myself’. So I went to the bank, Allshorns lived at the bank, and I went there.
Q: Was that Barclays?
Miss P: Barclays Bank, yes. I used to switch the light on in the town clock every night when it was on the bank. [Q laughs] And I used to do the cooking. We used to have lovely times cooking there. But funnily enough they went to – he retired and they went to live at Ealing. Well, I did go up there with them for a little while but I didn’t like being up there. It wasn’t quite…
Q: Where was that?
Miss P: It wasn’t quite – in Ealing in London. West London.
Q: Had you been to London before?
Miss P: I had been to London, yes. So I went up there. And I’ll tell you what I did see while I was up there. The R101 airship, remember that crashed? [in 1930] They had all the coffins in Westminster Hall. And I came up from Ealing, come on the Underground up to Westminster and I went and saw all those coffins one day while I was there. (Q: Goodness!) When I went back and Mrs Allshorn said to me ‘What have you been doing? Where have you been? And I told her and she said ‘Oh dear! What an afternoon! Whatever made you do that?’ [laughs]
I said ‘Well, I just thought I would’. It was an historic event! I mean, they talk about it now. Not long ago there was a picture of that and I thought ‘Yes! I know all about that, I was there!’ [laughs]. That’s horrible! But I didn’t like being up there. (Q: Why?) I hadn’t got friends and there was – I did sort of get a bit friendly – we used to have a woman come in and do the cleaning and all that. And I went to church with her. Because I’d always been brought up to go to church, I always liked going to church. That’s one thing I don’t like now because I can’t get to the church. But still, and when I went to church on my own after that I was always sitting in somebody’s seat! It was always ‘ Would you mind moving? This is my seat.’ Or ‘I’m ever so sorry this belongs to somebody else’. And I was always being pushed and moved about so I didn’t go to church and I wasn’t very happy and that so I packed up and come home. And I went then to Gerald Bright’s and I was cook there.
Q: How much older would you be then?
Miss P: Oh gosh! How old? I was twenty-one when I was at the bank, I know.
Q: So you stayed at the doctors quite a time then?
Miss P: Yes. Yes, I was there nearly a – yes. I was – it must have been …
Q: So you were in your twenties anyway?
Miss P: Yes, I know I’d had my twenty-first because they gave me twenty-one shillings as a birthday present and I went to Webber’s at Chelmsford and bought a wristwatch. And I’ve still got that wristwatch! (Q: Really?) Yes. [laughs]
Q: So what were your actual wages?
Miss P: About one pound three and fourpence a month.
Q: Did you have a uniform?
Miss P: Oh yes. My mother had some beautiful dresses made for me. And a black – now [???] I don’t know. I’ve got photos of me with all the dogs and that. Because I used to love the dogs – dogs at the doctors and Patch the dog at the Bank. And Gerald Bright of course had gun dogs. I’ve got pictures and photos with them. That was nice.
Q: So when you wanted another job, how did you go about looking for one?
Miss P: Just – well, I got known, I had people queued up in Witham for me! [laughs] Yes, because you see, the clique of people used to come to dinner parties and I used to cook the dinner parties and as soon as that got known that I was leaving a job or when what you call its – Allshorns was going away, they were queuing up wanting to know did I want another job! [Q laughs] But I went to Gerald Bright’s.
Q: What was it like there?
Miss P: It was all right there, it was lovely there. We had – we used to have lovely dinner parties at night. They used to have gentlemen’s dinner parties. Mrs Bright used to go away and spend a weekend at Southwold with her people. And he’d have men, all in. And we used to start off with fish, fried fish and chips. And then great big steak and kidney puddings. And then apple pie and cream for afters. You know, men’s – what men like. That used to be that. Well, then they used to clear the dining room. This was in Roslyn House what they’re pulling to pieces now [16 Newland Street]. And they used to play cards and drink and – ooh. [laughs]. They used to be – she didn’t know half what went on in there! But still …
Q: What did go on then?
Miss P: Well, not – I mean, they used to have a good time, just these men. Used to really have a good time, playing cards and drinking and they used to sort of have …
Q: How many would they have at a time?
Miss P: We used to have about eight or ten at a time. When we had their ordinary dinner parties we used always to have eight. And we used to have the dinner parties and they nearly always used to have Valentine Crittall, he used – Sir Valentine Crittall, he used to come there. And it’s funny because they always used to have the table piece – I didn’t have anything to do with that because they’d got the other maids there doing that. It was always fruit and they always had a pineapple. And they used to raffle the leaves of the pineapple.
Put so much on the raffle on the leaves of the pineapple. And we used to have big courses there. We used to have – we’d start off with hors d’oeuvres and soup and fish and entrees and roasts. And then – what comes next? Dessert, sweet dessert, savouries. I’d go right through. And when they got this raffle round, they invariably used to ask for the cook. And I used to have to put – you know, when you’ve been doing – when you’ve been cooking for about – for all that lot! And that was for about seven or eight hours, because I used to have to start early. And this was about finishing up about two o’clock in the morning! And he always used to give me the prize of the raffle money. I used to share it with the other girls, you see. So we used to have it. And Gerald Bright – he always used to bring the fruit dish out and the port wine decanter and put it in the servants’ hall. For us to have a drink when they’d finished. That was ever so good.
Q: How many servants were there?
Miss P: There was three, three of us there. Then I left there, I got a bit fed up and I said I was going …
Q: Why did you get fed up?
Miss P: I don’t know. I said I was going – I went to – I had a job – I was ill. And Dr Little said that that job I was doing was too much, I was to have a lighter job. And he advised me so I left there and I was at home for some time. And then I went up to – he said to ‘Get a temporary job if you can and then get a rest afterwards’. Because I had appendicitis and that went wrong and all that. And I went to High Hall at Wickham Bishops, Gurneys. Their daughter was presented at Court. At that time he was Governor at the Bank of England. And they lived at Runcton[?] Hall in Norfolk, near Sandringham. And they took this house, at High Hall to be near London. Because they weren’t going to be [???] and they wanted a cook. Their own cook they’d got down there was very old and she didn’t want to come but they brought nearly all the other maids and that with them. House maids, kitchen maids, parlour maids, lady’s maid, children’s maid, governess and that. And so I went there, I was there for about three months I think. But that was all right.
Q: So when you were cooking all these different courses, how did you get everything ready at the right time and still hot? I suppose it was practice?
Miss P: Well, you just did it. You just come to it. I was there – because I was there in 1937. (Q: At Wickham Bishops?) At Wickham Bishops at that job, well, that was the coronation, wasn’t it? (Q: Yes.) Well, the Gurneys, there was just Mr and Mrs Gurney and one girl. And the older girl, I forget what their names were now, the girl that was being presented at Court. And they went up to London to the Coronation and they said we weren’t to do any work, none of us. We were to just leave food enough for them; they’d help themselves when they came home. Because they always had a big dinner at night. And I’d done up cold soups and cold salads and things. And we were supposed to have the wireless on and listen to the Coronation. Well we did! And it was a beautiful day and we took these cushions out and laid out on the lawn, all the lot of us. And all of a sudden the door opened and in walks Mr and Mrs Gurney! [Q laughs] She said ‘Stop there, stop there!’ They’d seen what they wanted to see of the coronation and all that and they’d come home early. Well, we didn’t think they were going to be back till – [laughs]. But anyhow we had to – they had their meal at night and they were going to have a bonfire at Wickham Bishops on top of Beacon Hill and we were all to go up – we all had to go up there. But before we went we all had to go into the dining room and all have a glass of port and he made a speech and gave a toast to the King and Queen.
And then of course we all trooped off up the … (Q: Bonfire.) all trooped off up to the bonfire, so that was lovely. But they were lovely – she used to come – I used to see her sometimes and she used to say ‘I leave it to you, give me what you like’. People in Witham, because they – everybody knew me in Witham and the shopkeepers, they were astonished because there was a big crowd there. And she said to me ‘We/will you remember – we always want good stuff. We want the best of everything and remember, you haven’t got to pay for it!’ So I was – I used to get – well, I did, I used to get the best. Gurneys.
Q: So would you say they were – with all the number of servants and everything, they were better off than the people you’d worked for before?
Miss P: Oh yes! Oh yes, because they’d got – one weekend we had there – what was he? Prince George of Denmark. He was sort of thing – and oh, we had countesses and lords and ladies and that all used to come there. The night this girl was presented at Court – of course they used to wear the three ostrich feathers then. (Q: Yes.) Well, they came home sort of early in the morning and she just took these feathers off and put them in the – laid them on the – in the hall. Well, someone through the hall called me – one of the girls said ‘Cook, come and have a look at these feathers!’ Well, I went through and had a look and one of the silly cats pushed these feathers and pushed this in my hair! Well, we couldn’t get the thing undone! Couldn’t get the clip undone! [Q laughs] And I was in the middle of doing kidneys and scrambled eggs and toast and everything for the breakfast and everything. And I was stirring scrambled eggs with Prince of Wales feathers in my hair. [laughs] And I had long hair at the time, and I used to have it bound across the back and come over in ‘earphones’. So one of the girls undid this earphone and undid this and of course some of the clip was in the strands of the other one! [laughs] So I had to have the other one undone. [laughs] It was funny! Yes, we used to have a good time. Then I went up – after I got better and that I said ‘Oh, I’m going to start work again – I’m going to have a change.’ I’ll go up to Chelmsford for a little while. So I went up there. But that was very high class. That was nice.
Q: Where was that?
Miss P: That was at Mount Hill. Well, of course, now, that’s all built on. That was next door to Bishop’s Court, the Bishop of Chelmsford’s house. But that was – well that was a huge place. They’d got three gardeners there and two chauffeurs and five of us maids there. And I used to – well, there was only three in the dining room. I used to have to cook for three in the dining room and five in the servant’s hall.
Q: You were the cook?
Miss P: Yes, I was the cook there. And of course the war [Second War] came out and that was the end of that. Two of the girls that went, two of them joined up. One went nursing. And that was no good. My father had died and I came home and I took on – of course I took on the tenancy of the house because my mother – well, my mother was sort of here on her own and they’d only give her ten shillings a week widow’s pension. And the rent was eleven and a penny! Widow’s pension, I mean, so I took that on. And she did apply at the time. She applied for a – she could apply for a supplementary benefit or something. And somebody came to see her and he asked her – and in that time I’d got a job and was working in the Co-op. And he asked her how much money I earned and she said ‘Well, I don’t know. I don’t know what her actual wages are. She gives me money for housekeeping and she pays the rent.’ Well, do you know, the old man went down to see Mr Norman down there and found out what I earned and he came back and told my mother ‘You can’t – you’re not entitled to anything, your daughter is in a good position and she can afford to keep you!’ So then I said ‘ You wait till I get old! I’ll get …’ But I don’t get anything, I haven’t got … [laughs] I don’t even got a parcel Christmas time!’ [laughs]
Q: When did your father die?
Miss P: He died in 1940. Yes.
Q: What was his first name? (Miss P: Walter.) And your mother was – ? (Miss P: Ada.) So when you speak about your grandmother, was she a Pavelin or your mother’s mother?
Miss P: That grandmother that was on the picture there was Pavelin. Yes. She was in the picture. My mother came from Cressing. And her name was Fryatt. My mother’s father was church clerk, gravedigger and bell ringer – because they only had one bell in Cressing – for just fifty years. At Cressing church. That was always –
Q: I wonder how they met then, if she was in Cressing?
Miss P: She got a job – she was a cook in service in Witham. And she went to – now – she must have gone – she went to somewhere where there was – oh, I think it was at church. Because my father used to go to church – there used to be – where Whitehall is now [18 Newland Street], old Bindon Blood used to be there and he used to run the Church Lads Brigade. And they used to play the flutes and march to church every morning. And of course, my mother went to church. And my father was in the Church Lads Brigade and that was how they met. [laughs]
Q: So you didn’t know your father’s father at all? (Miss P: Yes!) Oh, you did?
Miss P: Oh yes, I knew them, yes.
Q: What was their name? (Miss P: They were Pavelins you see.) Their first names?
Miss P: Alfred – he was Alfred and my grandmother’s name was Sarah Ann Adelaide. [Both laugh] Got a posh name!
Q: So what did they do? What did your grandfather do, that grandfather?
Miss P: He was gardener at The Lodge.
Q: He was the one that was the gardener at The Lodge?
Miss P: Yes. He was the gardener at The Lodge
Q: I see, it runs in the family, doesn’t it? Gardening.
Miss P: Oh yes! [laughs]
Q: I see, so the picture that you say your grandmother is on …
Miss P: Yes, that’s on the house picture. That’s my grandmother. That used to be a beautiful garden. The road was up the top here, you see.
Q: This is the ones you were going to see …
Miss P: When I was little and I used to go on the carriers’ cart, I used to go and see her. Because my mother’s mother and father were at Cressing. We used to go and see them. My father used to hire a pony and trap. From Ardley’s the bakers, they used to let out ponies and traps Sunday afternoons and we used to in these little tub carts and go over to Cressing. We always – but of course my grandfather was always at church because he was the verger and all that sort of thing. And we used to go – we always used to go and if I said anything to my brother Jim – we used to sit and talk sometimes. If I said anything, he used to sit at the back, right at the back with a long cane. And if any of the children there on their own didn’t behave themselves he used to give them a poke with this cane. But he always used to rap on my straw hat! [both laugh] My brother Jim was always either a giggler or a talker. He could never keep a straight face! [laughs] Oh dear.
Q: So being a verger was quite an important position, wasn’t it?
Miss P: Oh yes, yes! He did it exactly for fifty years. And he was buried on his ninety-first birthday, in Cressing churchyard. Yes. He was a lovely old man, he had a long white beard.
Q: But in Witham, did you go to All Saints or St Nicolas?
Miss P: To All Saints. Yes. We went to – I was christened in All Saints church, in 1904 but I was confirmed in the parish church. Because, I mean, All Saints Church – we always went there. We used to go there mornings, afternoons and evenings. And when they had those – before Eastern Counties took over Bridge Home, there used to be a Metropolitan school for boys and girls. And they had a lovely band and they used to march them up to All Saints church every Sunday morning with all these children and that, and boys and girls all behind them. And if you were going to church Sunday nights, if you didn’t get there early you couldn’t get a seat! Now – of course, it’s a Catholic church, now, isn’t it?
Q: So you would go in the morning and the evening, usually, would you?
Miss P: Yes. We used to have – when we were children we used to have to go to Sunday school in the morning. We used to have to go to Bible class in the afternoon or Scripture Union that used to be called. And then we’d go with mother and father and that in the evening. Then go for a long walk round in the summertime. We used to like that because we used to go down to Stepfields and home round Braxted.
Q: What, you all went?
Miss P: Yes. Well, things change.
Q: Did your mother and father go to church in the mornings, as well?
Miss P: No! No, no.
Q: So Sundays would be quite a special sort of day then, really?
Miss P: Oh yes. And we always used to have supper with the tablecloth on Sunday nights! [laughs]
Q: I see.
Miss P: In the week-time we used to have a cup of cocoa or something and a piece of cake. But Sunday nights we always had a tablecloth on and sat up the table.
Q: What did you usually have for Sunday supper, then?
Miss P: Well, usually we had a joint for midday and that would be cold meat and pickles and jelly and something like that. And of course, the boys were all in the choir, in All Saints’ choir. My brother John was leader of All Saints choir for a long time. Until his voice broke and he had to give it up. They were all in the choir. And Jim was in the Scouts so he had – if the Scouts had anything on on a Sunday he enjoyed that better than going to church! But anyhow he had to go to church. I used to have to do that. Now none of the children go to church, they don’t know what it is or anything about…. But I went to church – the people over the road, they had a little granddaughter christened last – in September. And I went to their christening, they took me down. And I went to St Nicolas church, I think it was about two years ago. Howbridge Hall – because they took over from being called a Church school, didn’t they. (Q: Yes.) And somehow they found out that I was the oldest member still around that went to Witham Church School. And Mr Robinson, the headmaster, wrote and invited me to go to their centenary service or something, which I did. I had a taxi there and a taxi back. Anyhow I went to church – it was lovely. And the singing! Those children, how they sang! That was beautiful, it really was. But still, I ain’t very good at walking about now and I can’t go down there. Still I have the church services on Sunday nights and the singing on my telly – I’ve got a good telly. I’m here on my own, I know. If we got wet Sunday nights and that or in the wintertime, we used to sit and sing hymns. We weren’t all that over religious, but we were all brought up that way. But we’d go through the hymnbook and we’d go through, we’d each have our special hymns what we liked. And we’d sing them.
Q: Was that the whole family?
Miss P: Yes, yes. That used to be – we all used to sit round and sing these hymns, pick them out. Well, I know most of the hymns and that.
[Talks about Jehovah’s witnesses and general conversation about present home, health and surroundings, not noted.]