Tape 135. Miss Florence (Flo) Pavelin, sides 3 and 4

Tape 135

Miss Florence (Flo) Pavelin was born in 1904. She was interviewed on 20 April 1991, when she lived at 127 Church Street.

She also appears on tapes 134 and 144.

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 ero.enquiry@essex.gov.uk or 033301 32500.

[???] shows words that are not clear enough to interpret and so have had to be omitted.
[?] after a word shows that its interpretation is not certain.
Later explanatory additions by JG or the transcriber are in square brackets [e.g. explaining locations etc.]

Note from transcriber – ‘Miss Pavelin says ‘Of course’ and ‘well’ very often, and I have omitted this on occasion’

Side 3

[looking at photo of home behind 137 Newland Street]

Q:    …how many rooms did it have in it?

Miss P:    Two, two bedrooms on the first floor and then a little sort of attic on the top. And just the kitchen – a sort of living room and then at the side a sort of kitchen with the copper and all that in it.

Q:    So that side there that’s boarded up …

Miss P:    Was the front – well sort of living room. Yes.

Q:    And then you had another bedroom up there?

Miss P:    Another room up the top, up a sort of ladder …

Q:    A ladder was it? Which was your room?

Miss P:    I think I was at the back. There was two rooms …

Q:    Back and front sort of thing?

Miss P:    One in front and one at the back.

Q:    It had quite a lot of rooms then?

Miss P:    That was – for what it was at the times, it was quite a big place. [laughs] Oh dear.

Q:    Did you have to pay rent for it?

Miss P:    I think they paid – I think my mother and father – I think they paid about half a crown a week for it. That belonged to Ardleys’ the bakers, you see. The bakers – there was three. There was two more beyond that one. Two more plaster houses.

Q:    What, further along from this? And they all belonged to him?

Miss P:    Yes. They all belonged to Ardley the baker.

Q:    There’s another piece on here but that was the back of bakers, was it?

Miss P:    The bake-house. That was the whole big bake-house. Where they baked all the bread and stuff. That was the bake-house. And then they had – no, they didn’t have a shop. No, it was their front room on the front. They didn’t have a shop, actually. They had a window at the side that used to look opposite the surgery. And they used to put bread and cakes in that and then people went to the bake-house door. And that was sort of a half door, you know and open at the top. But they had big bakers’ rounds. They had horses and carts going out every day on the big rounds with their bread. Yes, they didn’t sort of rely on much, not for selling as it was there. Hot cross buns of course, they always used to have. We used to get hot cross buns straight out the oven Good Friday mornings.

Q:    Where did they keep the horses and carts?

Miss P:    Right up the back, right round. Yes, up the front, right round the back. Then eventually he got a car. And where they used to have the carts in, they used to, he had a car. But he used to have the big bakers’ carts and then he also had two or three sort of little gigs, tub carts and that. And he used to hire them out to people Sundays. Because I know my father used to have one Sunday afternoons and take us over to Cressing to my Cressing granny’s, yes. We used to have a little horse called ‘Tuppenny’ [laughs]. And it wouldn’t stand, it wanted to be on the go – it didn’t want to stand. Because it was used to being on a bread cart all the week, just stopping at a house and going, stopping at a house and going. [Q laughs] And it didn’t want to stand. [laughs]  Funny little thing, but we always used to have a lovely day out with Tuppenny, Sunday afternoons. [laughs] They were good old days, they were.

Q:    Did he have a field for the horses? Were they in stables?

Miss P:    No, they were in stables. No, they never – and when Ardleys retired, they had a house built in Collingwood Road and went and lived there. And he let out cars and sort of did a taxi service from there after he retired from the bake-house. Where Higgins, the dentist is. Ardleys had that and I think Higgins, when he first came to Witham – lodged with the Ardleys. Sort of was their lodger. And then eventually Mr Ardley died and Mrs Ardley lived there for a long time alone. She sort of ran the taxi business and then of course Higgins – they hadn’t got any family of their own. So I don’t know whether he took on the house or …

Q:    The Ardleys didn’t have a family?

Miss P:    No, I think she had a sister somewhere but he’d got no family and they’d got no children.

Q:    So when he was in the bakers, was there just the two of them there or did he have people working there for him?

Miss P:    Oh yes, he had – there was two or three – three men working. He was working, she used to do the dough, she was ever such a strong woman. She used to be in the old bake-house, rolling out the dough and doing all the loaves and that. And then he had two more men working there. There were three men and Mrs Ardley working in the bake-house. They used to start about four o’clock in the morning. And then they had about three rounds. About three men – oh and then of course, during the war, they sort of made history to start with. They had the first lady – what was her name? – Brewster, Gladys Brewster [later Mrs Baker]. And she had a suit and brown buskins and went round on a bread round and she was the first lady starting in the First World War on the bread round. [both laugh]

Q:    What did people think about that?

Miss P:    Well, of course, there were several – then of course several people started. Then there was a couple started working in the Post Office. There was two women started there. And various women started in various places, going round working. But they – but she was the first one. She wasn’t very old. I saw her some time ago, years ago, I saw her when I went down the surgery once. A poor little old lady, because she was older than me. [laughs] We were only school kids during the War.

Q:    Was she the one whose father was a saddler, in Maldon Road? (Miss P: Yes) I think I’ve met her, she lived in The Avenue for a long while. I don’t know if she’s still there.

Miss P:     She lived in The Avenue.

Q:    She’s older than you, you say?

Miss P:    Yes, because I was still at school when she was – she was working there. She did eventually – she was crippled with rheumatism and that. I know different people said it was all the weather she went through, all the winters and that. We did have bad winters during the War. Not as bad, although it’s a winter day today. That’s how she got …

Q:    So these bread rounds were out in the country as well?

Miss P:    There and in the town, they used to do a town round. Then there was Burrells’ bakers, further up the town. Palmers’ has just closed, well, that was Burrells’ baker, they had a baker’s round. Then up the top by – what is there now? Oh, I think that’s part of Woolworths’, that’s Woolworths’ little old shop. There was Brand’s bakers, so there was three bakers sort of along that street.

Q:    Did you bake things at home as well? Did anyone bake their own bread, for instance?

Miss P:    We never used to bake it, no. No need, because you could always get hot bread.

Q:    Did they do anything else other than bread?

Miss P:    Well, they used to do bread and cakes. And then weekends they used to do people’s joints and Christmas time they would do people’s Christmas cakes. I think nearly every weekend they’d got somebody’s special cakes baking in the oven. They used to do all them.

Q:    What, that they made, or could you make your own?

Miss P:    Make your own and take it and then they’d bake it in their bakers’ ovens. Used to be beautiful. And then of course, they bake so easy and baked them all level all the time.

Q:    So you’d bring your own cake along in a tin or something?

Miss P:    Yes make a big cake and …

Q:    And the joints, how did it work if you had a joint to …?

Miss P:    People used to take them in about eleven o’clock and put it in the oven until about one o’clock. You’d see people running in all directions with joints covered up! [laughs] If they’d got them, especially Christmas time, the turkeys and that. Big stuff, they used to do a lot of it. They were ever so busy.

Q:    Did you ever use it – have a joint cooked there, do you remember?

Miss P:    No, I don’t think my mother ever did. I think she had a cake, she wanted a cake special once. I think she had a cake baked in there once, but only once. My mother was a cook before she married and she knew how to bake cakes and all that. She used to bake no end of cakes and all that, she used to bake no end of cakes. Fruit cakes, seed cakes, my father used to love seed cake, caraway seed.

Q:    Would you have a joint sometimes?

Miss P:    We always used to have a joint Tuesdays. My mother always had a joint on Tuesdays, and that was usually shoulder of lamb or have a roast, or perhaps she’d make a big steak and kidney pudding for a change, or a big stew. If she had the joint then that used to be we’d have that the second day. And we always had roast beef on a Sunday. Always roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Never anything different, that was always our Sunday. We used to have a chicken sometimes. We were – I mean, we were always – although I mean, we hadn’t got a lot but we were always fed well. We always lived well. And we’ve always stuck to it and gone through life doing it as we were brought up. I mean, all during the War [First War] she always used to – we used to keep chickens and that used to – down at Sorrells’, the butchers, they’d got several children and of course there wasn’t many eggs about. Well, our hens – we’d only got a little tiny backyard, not much bigger that this room – or not as big as this room, really. We used to keep about a dozen chickens in there and we used to have eggs. He used to come up and say ‘Have you got three or four eggs you can let us have?’ And he’d take the eggs and we’d have meat for them! That’d do us more use to have meat stuff, for the eggs, because you couldn’t get eggs, eggs were about a shilling each in those days. So for two or three eggs my mother would get a rare big load of meat!

Q:    That’s good isn’t it?

Miss P:    Yes. But we always had hot dinners, cooked dinners every day. We used to have fish. My mother used to buy a cod’s head. There’s a lot of meat on the cod’s head, well, there used to be the way we used to get them. So we used to have fish one day for dinner with new potatoes. Always cod’s head with new potatoes. Yes, that used to be lovely. Good grub. Great big bread puddings.

Q:    So if you were at school you would come home?

Miss P:    Come home to dinner. Yes.

Q:    And what about when your father was at work?

Miss P:    He’d come home to dinner. So we were all home to dinner. We all sat down and had our hot dinner together.

Q:    Where would you be say at this house? Would you eat it in the kitchen room or …?

Miss P:    More or less in the one room. One room altogether it was. We used to sort of sit up the table, the cooking facilities were outside in the other room. But there was not room enough for us to sit about there. There was only three children there. And then my brother and my sister sort of arrived, John was born 1917 and Bess 1923. So there was only three children there. My father was away. And then during the war, most of the war he was away, he was called up.  And then by the time the war was over and he got back out of the army and that, I was out at work. I went across the yard to the doctors’, into the surgery.

Q:    So the actual cooking was out the back, somewhere? And that was the eating room?

Miss P:     Yes, on the side.

Q:    In the War [First] did you have any soldiers staying or anything? Some people have told me they did have.

Miss P:    Oh no! Plenty of soldiers about in Witham We used to go in school holidays and that, me and my brother Jim, we used to go fruit-picking and they used to have the wounded soldiers, a lot of wounded soldiers were in Bridge Home. Of course they call it Bridge Hospital now, but Bridge Home. We used to go up to Hatfield on the fields where Lynfield café and that is now. We used to go fruit picking, strawberries and all that. And the wounded soldiers used to walk up there for something to do and they’d come on the fields and we used to like that because they’d help us pick fruit! [laughs] And we used to earn a lot of money when the wounded soldiers came to help us. That was all right.

Q:    That was strawberries and things was it?

Miss P:    Yes and we used to have – we used to pick big strawberries in punnets, about two pound punnets and then we used to pick ‘Scarlets’ in about seven pound punnets. They were for the jam. But I always used to get threepence extra on it. Because we used to get about tuppence a pound for picking but I always got threepence extra on a punnet because I was a clean picker. And if they wanted any fruit special for anybody, people used to come for, say, about seven or eight pound of strawberries they always had my picking because I was a ‘clean picker’! [laughs] We used to earn a lot of money there.

Q:    How old would you be then about? That was when you were quite small?

Miss P:    About eleven, or twelve I suppose, thirteen.

Q:    Did you get the money every day?

Miss P:    No, they used to give us tickets. We used to be called up – they used to call out ‘Weigh-up, Weigh-up’ they used to call – and we used to go to the shed and a man sit there with the scales. And weigh out what we’d got and he used to tear off tickets, like cloakroom tickets and give us them. And we used to keep them all. And then at the end of the week we used to stick them all on a sheet of paper and add them up. Well, my mother used to do all that, stick them all on a sheet of paper and add them up. And we used to take them in when we went Fridays. And then what we earned Friday had to go on to the next week. So we used to get – and then we used to knock off a bit earlier and so then we used to go and collect the money, the money was all in little envelopes for us.

Q:    On the Friday?

Miss P:    On the Friday.

Q:    When you say the money had to go on the next week …

Miss P:    Friday when we stopped we got tickets …

Q:    I’m with you.

Miss P:    We used to have to take the sheets in first thing in the morning. That was good, that was.

Q:    Did you enjoy it then or was it hard work?

Miss P:    Oh yes, no. We used to – my brother Jim and I used to go. We used to mix, because -Mother had got Dick, he wasn’t very old. He didn’t go. And then of course, eventually, John and them come along. But I was working after that. We used to go with a crowd – in Bridge Street there used to be quite a little crowd of people, women with children. And we used to mix up with them and all walk off to Hatfield. Sometimes we used to go to the fields right opposite Hatfield Terrace. But we never thought nothing about it, we used to go off. Start work at six and we used to have to start off early and we used to knock off at three and come home.

Q:    Did your mother go as well? (Miss P: No.) No.

Miss P:    No, she never went.

Q:    So what did you do with the money when you got it?

Miss P:    Well, buy a pair of shoes, or buy a hat.

Q:    I mean did you give it to your mother? All of it?

Miss P:    I suppose she used to have some of it. Some of it used to go in the money-box. Some of it we used to spend when we went to Maldon. [laughs]

Q:    It was useful, wasn’t it?

Miss P:    Yes. It only worked out sort of so many shillings. I don’t know whether I used to get over a pound sometimes. I was pretty smart at it, I used to do all right. Blackcurrants, I used to earn a lot of money in blackcurrants. I could pick them.

Raspberries I didn’t like, because they were juicy. You had to keep running, every time the juice started running you had to run off to get them weighed up and get them tipped into these big tubs. But we didn’t go on gooseberries, they used to put the boys on gooseberries. But none of the women, but blackcurrants and strawberries, big strawberries and little strawberries. Yes, I done well at them. We used to go pea picking, Jim and I. We went to Bonners’ that was, right opposite – now opposite The Lodge [Witham Lodge], we went in a field up there one day.   And they were paying a shilling a bag for little bags! Marvellous peas they were. And my father was in the army and he came home on leave and he came up to us in the field and he helped us pick. And we earned just a pound that day, we picked twenty bags! We’d got just a pound for between us. [laughs] Yes, we done ever so well that day.

Q:    So he did come home on leave occasionally then?

Miss P:    Yes. He wasn’t –he didn’t go abroad, he was in the – well, he’d only got one eye, so he wasn’t – (Q: Oh, I see!) – he wasn’t much good in the army, but he went all over England. But he used to come home when that was his turn to come home on leave.

Q:    What had happened to his eyes?

Miss P:    Actually, he had – I think, working at The Grove before the War, [First War] when he went stoking up one night, a spark flew in his eye and burnt his eye. Anyhow he had his eye taken out, he had a glass eye. To look at him you wouldn’t know, but what he’d got his own eyes, but he’d only one glass eye. But, anyhow, he was in the Army. He was at Durham. [laughs] He was stationed at Durham when my brother John was born and my mother christened him John Durham. [Q laughs] He’s John Durham. Well, funnily enough, when John’s boy Stephen was born, he’s Stephen Durham! Well Stephen’s had a boy, he’s about twenty-one now, he was christened in Chelmsford Cathedral. He’s Jonathan Durham. [both laugh] So Durham has gone right through. Because my father was stationed at Durham and he was in the Durham Light Infantry! [Both laugh] So they all got this – there’s three Durhams going. He was in the Durham Light Infantry, stationed at Durham. He was at Aldershot – he was at Aldershot for a long while. He was at Aldershot when I was confirmed, that was in 1917. He was in Aldershot and he said he wouldn’t be able to get home. But he went into a shop in Aldershot, he went to a milliner’s shop there and had a proper confirmation veil made. And had it put in a shoebox and posted home. So I had ever such a posh confirmation veil. And my father had it made while he was in the army.

Q:    So were there soldiers about Witham as well?

Miss P:    Oh, there was a lot of soldiers. That field up from Bygrove [House], where Dr Foster lives now, right up to Heddle’s house [48 Collingwood Road] was just a field. There was a lot of soldiers billeted in there. And just over the hedge from Collingwood Road was all field kitchens. All the ovens, they used to do all the cooking and that in there. They were all stationed – because they had the horses at that time. And of course, the other side of The Avenue they’d got all the horses in that meadow there. But it’s funny, in the Braintree and Witham Times about three weeks ago a woman wrote in and she said she’d been very pleased to read something in the Braintree and Witham Times that brought back memories to her. She was brought up – or she knew Mr Laurence well and he lived at The Lodge and The Lodge brought up great memories. Well, Mr Laurence was never at The Lodge. Mr Laurence lived at The Grove. Admiral Luard lived at The Lodge.

Q:    I think she meant the Lodge – because I wrote to her after that, that lady.

Miss P:    Oh yes?

Q:    Because I was interested, I think she meant the lodge to The Grove, the one where the Conservative office is. That’s where she lived. She was eighty-seven, but I only know her married name, which was Taylor. {Mrs Amy Taylor, nee Burton]

Miss P:    Yes, I was going to write.

Q:    I could give you her address sometime.

Miss P:    Because I thought then – I was going to write to her because I wondered if she – because there was Eversons and Perrys and Burtons. Now Burtons lived up at the lodge there. Her – the Burtons’ father he used to look after – they had two Jersey cows for the house. And he used to look after that and I think he used to run the motors for the electricity. Well, then there was Clements, he was the coachman, but they lived over the stables, in the top. Because I thought about writing to her and I thought I wonder what her name was. Because she talked about going to school and seeing the gentlemen and the people on the horses. Well, that was before the War, because during the War there was all soldiers in those meadows. That would be before the War, because I thought she was about my age, she must have been …

Q:    She wrote back to me a couple of times, I’m still writing to her. I’ll give you her address because it wasn’t all in the paper. I’m sure she’d like to hear from you. She said she’s eighty-seven which is the same age as you. And I think she meant she was born in the lodge. But the only thing is I still haven’t got her – I think it was Ann or Annie. And in one of the letters I think she said she and her brother or somebody had red hair.

Miss P:    Well, that was the Burtons.

Q:    They’d got no – she just happened to mention that for some reason.

Miss P:    The Burtons had red hair.

Q:    Was there a girl about your age?

Miss P:    There was Dora Burton and Amy Burton. They were sort of about my age.

Q:    Perhaps it was Amy then. I’ll bring you the address and her letters because she sounded as if she seems to like writing letters and getting them, so it might be interesting for you.

[Discussion on newspaper, not noted]

Miss P:     …I was going to write and say what was her name, was she a school mate of mine?

Q:    I think she quite likely would have been.

Miss P:    She would have been …

Q:    Unless she went to the other school, of course.

Miss P:    She might have gone down to the Board school on Maldon Road, yes.
[Discussion on contacting writer, not noted]

Miss P:    There was George Burton and Arthur Burton.

Q:    I think Mrs Hammond who used to live in Chalks Road was a Burton.

Miss P:    Ah yes, she was another Burton. Yes. Her father worked on the railway. He used to drive the railway van, delivery van and that about. They were different. Now that lot of Burtons – going about four stages back, were cousins of my father!

Q:    Oh I see. [laughs]

Miss P:    That Burton – their grandfather and my grandfather were cousins. That Burtons eventually went back to – the mother was a Pavelin. But it wasn’t the same branch of Pavelins as us. But they were ginger Pavelins, funnily, now you talk about it!

Q:     Isn’t that funny!

Miss P:    Yes, they were – because Mrs Burton, she’d got red hair.

Q:    The Burtons from Chalks Road?

Miss P:    No, the ones from the lodge – the Grove lot.

Q:    Have any of the Pavelins got red hair?

Miss P:    No, all grey now! [laughs]

[Discussion on Mrs Taylor, not noted]

Q:    Did you see Mr Laurence much?

Miss P:    Oh yes, I knew Mr Laurence well and Mrs Laurence, and Miss Gracie, his daughter, Miss Gracie Laurence. She used to run the Sunbeam Club. We used to go into the old – with Miss Pelly she used to run that club. We used to go up to the Church House, to a Sunbeam Club. Sort of – well, they used to have girls for the Sunbeam Club and boys for the Scripture Union and they used to run that. Oh yes, we used to see them – see them walking about and they always talked to you. Always speaking to you when they see you, ask you what you’d been doing and if you’d been behaving yourself. Well, we had to behave ourselves. [laughs]

Q:    The Grove itself must have been a big house.

Miss P:    Yes, terrific.

Q:    Was that all his family?

Miss P:    Him and his family and they used to have lots of company. There was lots of servants because – I think there was about fourteen. There was butlers and footmen and ladies maid and two or three housemaids and a parlour maid, and cook and kitchen maid. You see, Dr Foster took that picture down to the Braintree and Witham and I’ve never had it back. Because my father was on that. There was the gardeners and then there was the stable lads. Because they used to keep a pony to pull the lawnmower, they used to mow up each side of The Avenue and then of course there was big lawns there at The Grove. They used to sort of sweep from the Grove House right down to Freebournes, great big lawns. They used to have ponies pull these mowers, to do all the mowing. There was a lot of grass about there.

Q:    So these people you talk about, would mostly live in the house, would they?

Miss P:    Well, now you talk about – she’s Mrs Taylor. That would be – Because Amy Burton was Mrs Taylor.

Q:    That must be Amy then. It was definitely ‘A Taylor’.

Miss P:    She was – I wonder if it was her? Because when we first moved up here, she lived a bit further up the road. She’d got one girl. She was married in Witham somewhere. I don’t know where she is now, you lose track of them, don’t you? But she was definitely Mrs Taylor. I never thought about that. Only when she was talking about being in ‘the lodge’ and bringing back memories, I thought she was getting mixed up with – (Q: Witham Lodge) – that Percy Laurence lived in The Lodge, but of course he never did, he lived in The Grove.

Q:    So they would have somebody living in the lodge, by the gatepost?

Miss P:    Always, yes. That would be Mr and Mrs Burton and their family there. They were all – and their children. They were all there with us. There was Stubbings, lived next door to us. She was the laundry woman. Her husband was a postman I think. But she was in the laundry, she lived in the second house of The Grove Cottages.

We lived in the first one, she lived in the second one and then Bell lived in the third one, he was the butler. And the head gardener lived in the fourth one.

[Looking at picture of Grove cottages]

Miss P:    And the old horse trough is there. With the old pump. And they used to clank that old pump. Now they built that bit on there. When we first lived on there, there was only the front part [of Grove Cottages]. And then they had another part built on there in 1908, that was built on. Because I remember – now I’ll tell you how I do remember – my mother and them moved out and went up to Hatfield Road in The Lodge cottages whilst their house was done. And while they were there the Cromer Express crashed [actually in 1905]. That happened whilst they were there because they saw all the people running along and you see the railway line was along the back of The Lodge and that and people were running towards the crash. So that’s when that was. Oh yes, and they used to bring the old horses up there.

Q:    You were in the first one?

Miss P:    This one [on the right of Grove Cottages], this one was ours and then Stubbings was in the next one and Perrys was in the next one. Then Bell was in that one and then Emersons were in the end one, that was a big one, bigger one than that was. They were all Lodge – all Grove people.

Q:    And the one next to you was the one who was the laundry woman?

Miss P:    She was the laundry woman. And she – every Saturday morning my mother used to give us – when we were little – a dose of liquorice powder. And she could never –she’d got one boy, Harold, and she could never get him to take a dose of liquorice powder. So my mother used to have him in with us. And we used to sit on the counter – the kitchen table, and he used to drink his liquorice powder and I’d drink mine. And I used to drink my brother Jim’s, because he didn’t like it! [Both laugh]. I always had a double dose of liquorice powder! [laughs] It’s funny how things come back to you!

Q:    But your mother managed to get Harold to take it even though his mother couldn’t?

Miss P:    Yes. She could never get him, no – and my mother used to mix them all up. We used to have them in a cup, the three of them on the table in the cup. And we used to go under the table and I used to drink my brother’s Jim for him.

Q:    Under the table did you say?

Miss P:    I went under the table because we’d got the kitchen table with the big cloth. And we used sit under there and drink this liquorice powder. [laughs] She – for years she never knew, she never knew but [laughing] I’d always had a double dose of liquorice powder. Yes. And that was when they built that extra bit. That was the old Chess Lane. But there was another row of cottages up there [i.e. in Chess Lane]. With all – the people lived in there worked at Freebournes Farm. They were all sort of the cowmen and ploughmen and all that that from Freebournes Farm. Yes. The old pump, they used to clank that old pump.

Q:    Was that where you had to get your water?

Miss P:    No, we’d got a tap indoors. Yes.

Q:    What did they use the pump for?

Miss P:    That was the horse trough, you see. They used to pump that down. There used to be – when I can first sort of remember, about ten o’clock at night – sometimes my mother used to let me stop up and see them. The mail coach used to come through from Colchester, gallop through with two horses. Or sometimes they’d stop them – in the summertime, they had to stop them there for a drink, and then go on. And Mr Moore with his two little ponies, the carrier from Kelvedon, he always give his ponies a drink there. Well, anybody on the farm, horses and that. People with horses and carts going through, they all had a drink out of that trough. They used to pump the old pump.

Q:    Would there be a mail coach coming along late, did you say?

Miss P:    Ten o’clock at night.

Q:    And what did that look like, do you remember?

Miss P:    Well, just like a big bread van thing. They used to gallop – I think they used to take them through to Chelmsford. They used to gallop these two horses through. Now, that was when the War finished [First War]. They had a bonfire in the town, right in the middle of the town, opposite- between the – well, that’s Martin’s shop now, isn’t it? (Q: Yes) [70 Newland Street] It was Affords’ then and Miss Hunts lived in there. They had a big bonfire. Well, they blindfolded those two horses to get them past that bonfire, that night when they come through. Because I know, we went up there, because my mother said she wondered if there would be a bonfire. We could stop up late and see it. Because there had been a bonfire – they’d had a bonfire there for some jubilee, Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, you see. And they just wondered if as the War’d finished they’d still have a bonfire. Oh! And that was a bonfire that night! They rolled barrels of tar up the town from the gasworks and put on that bonfire. And then all of a sudden everybody shouted ‘The Royal Mail! The Royal Mail!’ And the firemen blindfolded the horses and led them past the fire. They’d got – they had the Fire Brigade standing there and damping down. God! They had another one at the end of this Second World War, but it wasn’t really like it. But that first one was terrific, oh yes. [laughs].

Q:    So the firemen were just sort of standing by, were they?

Miss P:    They were standing by. Every now and again they put the hoses on the houses. Because there was Affords’ shop and then there was Bradshaw’s shop [68 Newland Street] there, you see. And the Barclays Bank [61 Newland Street] was this side and Horwood House [59 Newland Street], was this side, well that’s Barclays Bank now, isn’t it? Miss Hunts lived in there. Every now and again they had to wet them down because there was such a huge … And there was some old cottages down between Sorrells’ butchers and Ellis’s shop – [round about 149 Newland Street] I see the other day when I went down there, the taxi took me down there and round that way, they’ve got that bit of ground up for sale. There used to be some old cottages along – well, there was a shop, Billy Wood’s shop. And old Mrs Poulter – Charlie Poulter’s mother, she had a lodging house there. And then there was another little shop, Glovers’ cycle shop. And they pulled that cycle shop nearly all to pieces and brought it up the town. They had all the doors and windows and everything. Brought them up the town and put them on the bonfire that night! Yes.

Q:    Even though there was somebody living there?

Miss P:    Well, it was Glovers’ cycle shop – I don’t thing the people – there wasn’t anybody – the Poulters were living in next door.

Q:    I mean did Glovers know about it, do you mean?

Miss P:    Oh yes! I think they did – anyhow, they found out when they went down the next morning! [laughs] There wasn’t anything there!

Q:        Oh dear!

Miss P:    Everybody went mad! They got wood from wherever they could get it and chucked it on! As I say, they rolled barrels of tar up from the gasworks to put on …

Side 4

Q:    …so was it a lodging house did you say?

Miss P:    Yes.

Q:    What sort of people used to stay there, at the Poulters?

Miss P:    Well, all sorts of people, I think. Just if people wanted a night’s lodging. They used to go there. It wasn’t a rough house or anything like that. Or sometimes somebody would stop there for a week or something. She’d got – there was Charlie and Albert and Ethel and Maud. She’d got several children of her own. But they used to take in these lodgers.

Q:    It can’t have been a very big place, though, can it?

Miss P:    I think it went further back. It wasn’t very big and it wasn’t very high. But then I mean there was that little old shop, old Billy Wood’s shop there. He used to sell everything but we didn’t use to go in there very often. We used to go there for, he used to have – golden syrup. We used to take a basin and he always used to weigh the basin. And he’d always got the golden syrup in like a water can. It used to be in a great big can and pour out of a spout. And he’d put that on the scales and we used to buy so much golden syrup. And we used to go there and buy if we wanted vinegar. Half a pint of vinegar or a pint of vinegar or anything like that. Because my mother always dealt at the Co-op really for groceries and that. And I know when I went in there one day, he said to me one day ‘Doesn’t your mother give you anything to eat only golden syrup and vinegar?’ [Both laugh] And I went home and told my mother so we never went there any more! [Both laugh]

Q:    That upset her did it, she was cross about that was she?

Miss P:    She said we paid for it and he’d got it to sell and he hadn’t got the things – I mean not – it was only like a little general shop. I suppose he’d got most – he used to make his own sausages. They were wonderful sausages that he made. Everybody used to go for Billy Wood’s sausages. But – oh dear! That was a tiny little place. That shop – you’d get about four of them in this room! Tiny little place. Used to smell like old shops always smelt. Funny little shops. He used to draw this vinegar out of this great big barrel, poor old man.

Q:    Did you take something to put it in?

Miss P:    Yes, we always took a bottle or a jug.

Q:    And the syrup as well?

Miss P:    We always took a basin for the golden syrup. We always took a basin. Because he used to weigh the basin first, you see, and then put the weights on. We used to buy what we used to buy. Because in those days we used to have suet pudding and treacle and treacle tarts and all that sort of thing. But nobody has them now, do they?

Q:    Did you children do a lot of the shopping?

Miss P:    Yes. We used to do most of it. My mother didn’t sort of go out much, really. Well, she’d got enough to do indoors. By the time she’d got us ready for school, tidied up and done the washing and – I mean there was no washing machines – and the ironing and the cooking the dinner. And we were all at home for dinner. And by the time she’d sort of turned round again, we were all back again for tea. [Both laugh]. We used to take a book into the Co-op. Used to take that in about Thursdays, the grocery order. And they used to deliver it about Saturdays. That always used to start off with butter and best back bacon and tasty cheese. She always used to put ‘tasty cheese’. And always finished up with ‘seven pounds of mixed chicken corn’ because we’d got chickens. [Q laughs] Always finished up with seven pounds of mixed chicken corn. Yes. And they used to deliver it. We always used to go up town Saturday nights, after tea Saturday nights. Because the Salvation Army band used to always play in the town. And …

Q:    Did you go shopping then as well or was that just …?

Miss P:    Well, sometimes she used to – we used to go to Cooks’, [5 Newland St next to High House] I think, the latter part of the time they were open. She’d go there and she’d get sausage rolls. Or go up to Cutts’ fish shop [29 or 33 Newland Street] and get fish and chips and take home for supper, after the band had finished. We used to go up the town and buy something like that for supper. My father used to buy the sweets for Sunday and for the sweets. And buy ‘War Cry’ and then we used to go home and have the supper. [laughs]

Q:    With the sweets, you mean …?

Miss P:    He always bought the sweets. And we used to have so many, sort of Sundays .A great big bag of broken chocolate, or mixed sweets or toffees and that. So we always knew we’d got sweets. He always bought the sweets Saturdays. If we got any money in the week to buy sweets, that was different. But we didn’t – we didn’t always buy sweets with that, if we got extra money. I know me and my brother Jim we got a penny each for something we’d done one day. So we went and bought my mother a pound of sugar!  That was only tuppence a pound, and we put our two pennies and bought her a pound of sugar – that was ever so clever! Because we always had plenty. [laughs] We used to feel in his pockets and see how many bags he’d got [laughs]. He used to hang his jacket on the back of the door and we’d feel in his pockets and see how many different bags he’d got. Because we never knew what he had bought. But we used to get mostly chocolate on a Sunday. But then we’d get …

Q:     So if you had your roast beef as well on a Sunday, you did well, then didn’t you?

Miss P:    Oh yes, we done well. Oh yes, we done well.

Q:    Did you have your sweets at a special time?

Miss P:    Well, after dinner. After dinner on Sunday, he used to dole out the sweets. But sometimes we used to have to wait because we’d either got to go to Bible class or Scripture Union or something of that Sunday afternoons so there was always something on. So we had to wait till we come back. Sometimes we’d get them early, before we went.

Q:    Were they quite strict, your Mum and Dad would you say? Or …

Miss P:    Well, they weren’t strict, well, I think they were just proper. We were never – we never thought they were strict. We always had a good life. They brought us up well. They did all they could for us and that. They had no hanky-panky! They used to – my brother Jim sometimes – we weren’t allowed to talk at the table. Only ‘please’ and thank you’ and that. We weren’t allowed to talk. Sometimes my brother Jim would kick me under the table and I’d kick him back but I’d kick him back harder and he’d begin to giggle. [Both laugh] My father would get up and take him by the back of his neck and take his plate and put him out in the kitchen, make him sit out there! And he’d sit out there and finish off his giggle. But, I mean, we’d never get a – never had a hiding or anything. My mother’d say sometimes ‘I wish you’d speak to that boy!’ My father’d say’ It’s nothing to do with me!’ [laughs] ‘You do the talking to him!’ ‘He wants a good hiding!’ I think he’d say ‘Yes, I’ll give him one!’ He used to always wear a leather belt and he’d just go like that with his belt but I never did see the belt come …

Q:    He’d just pretend.

Miss P:    Yes, well, I don’t think any of us ever had – I’m sure we didn’t. Not that we didn’t deserve it mind you, probably.

Q:    But he thought it was your mother’s business.

Miss P:    He used to say ‘Oh, you talk to her, you talk to them, that ain’t nothing to do with me’. She’d say ‘I’ll tell your father when he comes home!’ And we used to know we’d never get anything wrong off him.

Q:    So if you had any sort of worries or anything, or problems at school or anything, would you go and tell, you’d be able to go and tell them about it?

Miss P:    We’d tell them, I’d tell Mother or Father, oh yes. That’s like when I first went to school. I used to go to school – I started going to school, well, my mother used to – there was two girls older than me. Used to come and pick me up and take me off to school. Well, in the wintertime my mother used to give them a cup of cocoa and perhaps a plate of porridge or something if we’d had it. Give me my dinner, because in the wintertime I used to take my dinner. Well, we’d just get out of sight of the house, and they used to eat my dinner! So by dinnertime I’d never got anything. And of course, I told my people at home and my father – and they confronted these girls and ‘Oh no! No, she ‘s telling lies! We don’t!’ Of course, then I got a hiding from them for telling tales!

Q:    Off the girls?

Miss P:    Yes, they give me a hiding, when I went to school. Anyhow, I was crying in school one day and the headmistress wondered why I was crying and she said ‘Where’s your dinner?’ And I said ‘I haven’t got any’. ‘Doesn’t your mother give you any dinner?’ I said ‘Yes, my mother always gives me dinner but these two girls had always eaten it. Took it away from me’. So they kept a watch and they gave me a note to take home to my father and my father kept the watch. He was halfway along the road and see the girls take my dinner out the bag and knocking my dinner back! [laughs] He kept his eye out over them and so that got sorted out. But by that time I was getting bigger and I used to go – and I’d got my own sort of school friends.

Q:    Who were these girls, were they people you knew?

Miss P:    Oh yes, they were bigger and older than me. Yes, just two older girls. Well, I don’t know what their names were now, don’t know who they were now. But I know they always used to eat my dinner! [laughs]

Q:    So you did take your dinner in the winter?

Miss P:    In the wintertime, yes.

Q:    What would you have for your dinner?

Miss P:    Well, a sandwich, perhaps, egg sandwich, dripping sandwiches, lump of bread pudding, bit of seed cake or bit of cake, an apple, an orange and something like that. And a hot tea when we got home.

Q:    Because I remember when …

Miss P:    As we got older, we could run backwards and forwards, you see. Yes.

Q:    Because I remember you telling me about your report that got torn up. (Miss P: Oh yes, yes.) And you said your parents were cross. Did they do anything about it?

Miss P:    Well, they couldn’t do anything about it, not really, not then. I think my father went up and saw the headmistress Miss Compton, but that was that. Because they were all sort of – well, they were jealous, well, they’d got the same chance! I didn’t do anything special to be – I just behaved myself.

Q:    So they did go to school sometimes, your parents?

Miss P:    Yes. Not often, because there was never any trouble really. There was nothing to go for.

Q:    You obviously got on with work at school. Could you have stayed on longer?

Miss P:    Yes, I could have gone on – if my parents could have afforded it  I could have gone to Braintree High School. And my brother Jim and my brother Dick, they were both the same. But you see, in those days, they couldn’t afford it. Because you had to pay and buy everything and that. You just couldn’t afford it. They had to sort of leave school and start work. [laughs]

Q:    You never thought of it? There’s no way you could? Did they suggest it at school or anything?

Miss P:    They did talk about it, but I wasn’t all that keen. I ‘d had really enough of school and I – I’d done well at school. I’d always done all right.  I’d never – did any thing special to get on any better than anybody else. I suppose if I’d got the brain, I just used it. I did well at school. And I’ve done well really since I’ve left school.

Q:     And when you left, was there any different sort of jobs you might have done when you left school? Than what you did do?

Miss P:    I could have gone to the glove factory. Because a lot of the girls when I left school, a lot of the girls that I went to school with, all went to the glove factory. Well, I said to my mother I was going there. And she said, no, she didn’t want me to go to the glove factory. So anyhow, I come back and I said I’d been and I’d got a job. At the glove factory, this was to start Monday morning. So anyhow on the Monday morning, off I went. Oh! On the first day I was there, my nose started to bleed! Aahh.

They put me on cutting cottons, off the edge of buttonholes with these scissors. Oh dear, it was terrible! Well, on the Thursday, they told me the next day I hadn’t got to go in on the Friday morning. Instead of going on the Friday morning, they gave me a note, I’d got to take that to the doctor’s to be – er – examined to see if I was fit for factory work. Well, of course, I went in, and I saw the doctor, it was old Dr Knight that was there then. And he said – of course I mean he knew us because we only lived just across the yard from him. I mean he’d seen us and knew us. He said ‘Your mother letting you go to the glove factory?’ I said ‘My mother didn’t want me to go there’. But I said everybody else has gone and I wanted to go. So anyhow, [laughs] when I took the form back to the glove factory, he’d put I’d got a bad heart and I’d got bad legs. (Q: No! Did he really?) And [laughing] I couldn’t work at the glove factory! They said, no, they dare not keep me there! If I went to the office they’d give me the money that I’d earned all the week. When I got there, they gave me an envelope which was supposed to have been two and sixpence but when I’d got home all I’d got was a two shilling bit and a three penny bit – silver three penny bit! So they diddled me out of threepence! [laughing] So that was the first week I was in the glove factory!

Q:    Goodness! Do you think what the doctor said was right or did he want to stop you going?

Miss P:    No! I don’t know! I don’t know. My mother went to see him afterwards but she said he was quite all right, he said that was more than he dared do to falsify the – he gave me a good examination. [laughing] But whether he did at all – I don’t know. Then, soon after that he left the doctors, he was quite an old man. But he was a dear old man. Of course, then after that I went to work at the doctors. One of the girls there was ill and I went in to sort of help out and used to do a few jobs and that. And then it got so that Dr Ted said – he went to see my mother and this girl that was there, she was going to get married. Well, I got – I was quite friendly with the girl. We were both confirmed together at the church. And she was going to get married and Dr Ted said why not let me take her place. My mother said she didn’t think I was old enough. And they said ‘Oh yes’, I’d got plenty of my senses and I’d been doing good work and that. But that was hard work. So I went in there and that was that. That was where I first started.

Q:    Did you not enjoy the glove factory?

Miss P:    Oh, I hated it! I really hated it! My nose used to bleed every day.

Q:    Why was that, I wonder?

Miss P:    I don’t know why, it was the smell of the oil of the engines or the noise of the old engines – it was dreadful! I hated it! I was quite glad [laughing] when they told me I couldn’t go back. No!

Q:    A lot of the girls did go there, did they?

Miss P:    Oh, a lot of them. There was Rosie Burch, you knew Rosie Burch? She was there, she worked there for years and years.  And May King was there and Dolly Meekings was there. All there – there are still several of them about. Mrs King, up Laurence Avenue, she was there. She never worked anywhere else. They never worked anywhere else only at the glove factory. Because they got on all right with it, but, oh, I didn’t like it! No fear! No. Dreadful!

Q:    Did any of the girls work in the shops or office work or anything like that? Or was that harder?

Miss P:    No, you see, to get into shops you more or less had to be apprenticed. Into shops. Lucy Croxall, she went to school with me. Well, of course, she went on, so she got on. Then Vera Doole, Mrs Grape who was at the corner there, she went on. I think she went to Braintree High School, then eventually they got on. But us, others, we had to work for our living.

If our parents couldn’t afford to push us further, you see, that was – I mean, they kept us all the time and sort if being war, well the end of the War [First World War]. That time it was. There wasn’t much knocking about then.

Q:    Like you say, you seem to have been well looked after, I just wondering whether you saw yourselves as being poorly off or …

Miss P:    No, not really, I mean, no, no, there was a lot of people – we used to – as I say, I see people about now, walk about with their nose up in the air, won’t go and look at me. And I used to take her a dress or something some times that I’d grown out of. Take it to school because they hadn’t got anything, you know. We weren’t – I should say we considered ourselves about middle class. We weren’t the poor lot, scruffy lot. We always went to school clean and tidy and respectable. And we always had good clothes, good shoes. But –

Q:    So if you had a dress or something, you’d actually take it to school, would you?

Miss P:    Take it to school and give it to somebody.

Q:    You’d give to the girls themselves?

Miss P:    Yes.

Q:    What did they say then?

Miss P:    Well, put it on often they used to put it on if they hadn’t got much on, if they hadn’t got very much. Because some of them there hadn’t got much, poor devils. Never had much really, I mean, we could always see some kids – we were well off according to what some of them were.

Q:    And what sort of jobs did their fathers used to do then?

Miss P:    Worked on the land or worked on the farms all round. Wheatons’ Farm [Freebournes, 3 Newland Street]. Of course, people picked up a bit more when Crittall’s came. When they got into Crittalls. [1919-20] But there weren’t much in the way of jobs, many farm jobs.

Q:    Did you play with these – outside of school did you play with some of those children?

Miss P:    No, no. We only just had our own little clique. We never used to …

Q:    Who were they, apart from you and your brothers?

Miss P:    I think we were a bit toffee-nosed! [both laugh] No, we never mixed up with the rough’uns. Well, we just got in, we had our clubs that we went to and our Sunday school. We’d got our friends, we’d always got something to do.

Q:    So your friends that you played at – I mean, suppose you hadn’t got – after school or something if you went out to play, who would you play with?

Miss P:    No! Never went out to play or things like that. We always used to do knitting or read a book or something like that. Or go for a walk with my father or my mother, no.

Q:    You never actually went out to play with other children?

Miss P:    No. I never did. The boys used to, sometimes they’d go out and play cricket down the meadows down by the gas works, go down there or that. But I never did.

Q:    Was that because you didn’t want to or …?

Miss P:    No, just didn’t want to, I used to just like – during the War my mother and I, we used to knit socks for the solders. We used to have great big hampers of wool come, used to come from Colchester. And she’d knit a sock and I’d knit a sock and we’d both knit together. Exact! And make a pair. And we used to knit two pairs every week. And then we got on to – they put so much wool in for socks and so much for scarves. But I always used to make the scarves – do the scarves quicker than my mother, I could do two scarves to her one. [Q laughs] But we’d always got something to do.

Q:    I remember you saying before that you helped out at home.

Miss P:    Yes, she wasn’t all that well, you see. And I had to – well, I didn’t have to, I used to – and we’d got a little bit of garden. We used to like that and then after my father came out the army, he got a bit of garden across the road, at the back of that chemist’s shop, it is now. [124 Newland Street].  And we all had our gardens. We used to go across there, he used to help us. We used to grow seeds and grow stuff. We’d always got interests. My brother Jim, he joined the Scouts. He was in the Scouts, of course that kept him going.

But Dick, he didn’t join, he was in the choir, they were all in the church choir and there was so many evenings a week for church choirs. And if there was weddings or anything, there was a special – there was always something to do.

Q:    When I first came last time, [tape 134] you were talking about a wedding and I couldn’t remember whose it was. Was it 1908, you had a picture of a wedding you showed me?

Miss P:    The Luards, at The Lodge. Admiral Luard’s golden wedding.
[looking at photos].

Q:    Because I’ve brought, I’ve got some other things here. Is that him? It’s not ever so clear, but in the middle there?

Miss P:    Oh yes, with his long beard. Yes, our Church school. When was this taken?

Q:    It’s obviously some sort of school anniversary thing. [actually 1905, centenary of Trafalgar, JG’s photo M156]]

Miss P:    He died in 1910, poor old chap, so it was before then. ‘Witham church school’. Somebody peeping through the window at the top. Where was this taken?

Q:    I think it was at Affords, isn’t it, I think I decided it was at Afford’s shop [at 70 Newland Street].

Miss P:    At the top of the town there, oh yes.

Q:    Would you see him around the town?

Miss P:    Yes, he was always – he used to drive a pony and trap and he was always about, round the town.

Q:    Would he speak to you?

Miss P:    Yes, he always used to speak to anybody. I used to like him because when I used to go up to my grandmother’s I used to see him up there. And I always used to see him and he always used to come and talk to me, and we used to walk across the meadows together and that. I actually knew him very well. Yes.

Q:    What did you talk about when you walked across the meadows?

Miss P:    Oh, we used to talk about the flowers and the cows. [Both laugh] Yes. The birds – show me a bird’s nest or something like that.

Q:    So people like him and Mr Laurence …

Miss P:    He was more friendly than Mr Laurence. Mr Laurence was a proper gentleman. But he [Admiral Luard] was a lovely man, well, all his family – because he’d got eight daughters, hadn’t he? The last one was Octavia [laughs]. Because Octavia – because he had eight daughters. And they did everything. They did the – all the things in the town were all run by [the] Miss Luards. Mothers meetings, Women’s Institute, Girls Friendly Society and everything, that was all the Luards.

Q:    Again you would see them about the town?

Miss P:    Oh, all the time, yes. Always see them.

Q:    But you said Mr Laurence would stop and talk to you. Does that mean he walked about as well?

Miss P:    He would go about in the carriage mostly but he sometimes would – but he’d talk to us if he was round, same as up here. Because the garden came right up to the thing there and if he came down sometimes up Chess Lane and we were out playing, he’d stop and talk and a few words and that.

Q:    But he wouldn’t sort of walk around the town?

Miss P:    No, no.

Q:    But he [Admiral Luard] would?

Miss P:    Oh, he would. He would walk about the town. Everybody in the town knew them. Yes. Poor old chap.

Q:    Yes, it was a pity after all that time, to get killed like that.

Miss P:    He got killed, yes.

Q:    [Looking at photo] I think that’s Canon Ingles there.

Miss P:    Yes, he used to come in the school, we always used to like it when he came. Because he always used to bring a big jar of fruit drops. He always came – when he came in he always brought a big jar of sweets. And he used to come round and we all had to have a dip of sweets out the fruit drops. Yes, Canon Ingles.

Q:    And of course if you went to church a lot you’d see him there.

Miss P:    Yes. We used to have our Sunday school treats up on the meadow at the side of the church, that sloping meadow, that goes down, that goes through the river walk at the bottom there. We always used to have our Sunday school treats there and the town band and that.

Q:    So was he quite friendly as well? [i.e. Canon Ingles]

Miss P:    Oh yes, he was a nice man. Yes.

Q:    Again, would he walk about the town?

Miss P:    He used to walk about the town, walk around the town. He used to walk into school, we all used to have stand up and he’d say ‘Good morning children’ and we all used to have to say ‘Good morning sir’. And everybody – he used to wear a cape – you know, like the old ‘Quaker Oats’ parson, sort of. And we used to look to see if he’d got his jar of sweets. He used to have those big four-pound jars of sweets and go all round the school. Always fruit drops. He used to come into school quite a lot.

[looking at photos, e.g. photo M145 – pageant]

Q:    I’ve got these pictures of these pageant things, did you ever do any of that sort of thing? I think they might have been behind The Grove where they all dressed up.

Miss P:    That’s later, I don’t know any of that lot.

Q:    You weren’t ever in anything like that?

Miss P:    No, we did a thing once, but I was at work then. They did ‘The Book of Common Prayer’. At the Public Hall, and went through the whole Prayer Book. Did scenes of the whole thing. And I – I don’t know how many I made – I made hundreds of pairs of sandals. Cut out these sandals of cardboard and felt and then put a bar of felt across for all the children to wear. And finished up – all the Harvest Festival, and the Marriage Service, and the Christening, oh, they had the lot! That was in the Public Hall, that was wonderful. That was beautiful. I don’t know who – Miss Eyre, Canon Eyre – his sister, or daughter – I don’t know whether she was his sister or daughter, lived at The Temples [8 Chipping Hill] on the main road there. She sort of got that up, with the Luards and all that. I wonder if that was something – nothing of this [indicating photos] – because this is outdoors.

Q:    Yes, that’s right. I remember showing those to Lucy Croxall, and I think she knew some of the people on them. Some might be before and some after. [Photo M109] You told me you knew the housekeeper at Miss Beadel’s – I think that’s their garden. I wondered if you knew …?

Miss P:    That’s Miss Beadel there, the lady on the left.

Q:    On the back of the other one it says ‘Mrs Caroline Chaplin’ [Pause] Perhaps you didn’t know her?

Miss P:    No, that was Ethel was the girl at …

Q:    It’s nice to know that’s Miss Beadel. It must be their back garden, I think. [no 117 Newland St]

Miss P:    Yes, it was, up the back. Because the Co-op was at this side of it and there was a walled garden there with all fruit and all that on.

Q:    Did the ladies mostly dress like that then?

Miss P:    Oh yes, the long skirts and the long black skirts. Of course, there was Miss Beadel and then there was – what was that other woman’s name? She’d got a lady’s companion. I forget what her name was. And her brother lived there with them, Joe Beadel. He was a great big tall man, something like Admiral Luard.

Q:    Fancy you remembering that. It’s a bit hard to tell what people are like as they look a bit fierce on the photographs.

Miss P:    Yes.  She was nice little lady. As I said before, I used to go and sweep the stairs down for her Saturdays. I only did that because Ethel had got a broken arm! [laughs] And they’d got an old parrot, that used to sit and call ‘Ethel’ all day! That Mrs Chaplin, she must have been before Ethel, because I think by the time they finished up, sort of after the war, Ethel was still with them all that time.

Q:    This lady must have been born – well, 1880 from this time – so she’d be twenty or more years older than you.

Miss P:    Yes, she was before that time.

Q:    So, really, who would you say were the top people in the town then – all these important people that you used –

Miss P:    Well there was sort of Laurences, and Beadels, and Luards up at The Lodge. Then there was Bawtrees where Batsford Court is now [100 Newland Street].  And Howard Vyse – well that’s all pulled down now. That was up at Lawn Chase. Howard Vyse he was a Major General somebody, big wig. And Rounds up at – there was The Manse [2 Newland Street] and then Rounds House, [4 Newland Street] by the War memorial. They were – they kept quite a few maids and were a bit ‘it’, sort of, the leading people in the town. Then that come down to the Percy Browns and the Mens and the Evetts, and the Manns down the bottom of the town. And of course the Gimsons, the doctors, Mrs Gimson – old Mrs Gimson – old Mrs Gimson looked just like Queen Victoria! She used to wear a white cap on her head and all just like Queen Victoria.  Of course they were …

Q:     That was their mother, was it?

Miss P:    Yes, the doctors’ mother. Yes. Pattissons, they were another lot, they lived at Pelican House, which they turned in half of the Co-op now [c 113 Newland Street]. They lived in the town there.

Q:    So would you say they were – (Miss P: Gentry people, yes) – or were some more important than others? Were there one or two that were more important than the others or would they all …?

Miss P:     Yes. Well, I suppose the Luards and the Howard Vyses and the Laurences. And then there’d be Parkers from Faulkbourne Hall and Lord and Lady Rayleigh from Terling Place. And then Lady Du Cane from up at The Mountains, up at Wickham Bishops. There was all that top class clique. But if you got to speak to them you were somebody, you know! [laughs]

Q:    So if you saw them coming down the street, what would you do?

Miss P:    You just walked past and you didn’t take no notice of them! The boys perhaps would touch their hats, but …

Q:    You didn’t do that?

Miss P:    [laughs] No.

Q:    You said your father worked at Wakelins for a bit? Where did they fit in?

Miss P:    Yes. After the War – they were sort of farmers. They came into sort of the second class, with the Gerald Brights and the Percy Browns and Joe Mens, the coal merchants people. All that sort – and the Pinkhams. They were sort of trades people. Glorified trades people. You see, these other people they weren’t trades people. They’d got beyond it! [laughs] They’d got all their money … (Q: Didn’t need to work?) Without of working for it.

Q:    It’s different isn’t it? Because you don’t have people around now so much. Well, I suppose we’ve still got Lord Rayleigh, but not in the town.

Miss P:    No, no. Because the old people used to be – they used come into the town but they don’t now. There’s cars – the carriages – you’d see their carriages and that in the town. Like that Lady Du Cane, she’d come in in her carriage. Well, she always had a footman sitting on the front of the carriage. And he used to always jump down and open the door and put a little box so she used to step out on to that and step out on to the path. You always knew when that was Lady Du Cane around. And then she used to step out then and have the footman on the carriage. Well, of course, people don’t have them now, do they?

Q:    What did she used to come for then?

Miss P:    Well, be in the town – they’d come in the town shopping and that. (Q: Of course) Come to Spurge’s, you see. They used to do the shopping mostly at Spurge’s. Or come to the bank. Be in the town, with the footman on the back, running around in and out of the shops for them. But, of course, they don’t do that now, do they? Nobody does. They all go to the supermarket! [laughs] Even I go and buy about six months of stuff at a time! My brother John takes me and I buy a whole load to last me about six months.

Q:    So people like – do you remember anything about the Wakelins, for instance? That was after the War?

Miss P:    He worked there after the war, the Wakelins, they were all right. He had – he used to go – my father used to go shooting with them and the doctors and Richardson of Richardson and Preece, the corn people and that. Weekends they used to go shooting on the marshes at Fingringhoe. But he was gardener there, you see. Then there was old Dr Payne, he lived at High House [5 Newland St]. He was another sort of big – well, I suppose he had been a doctor. His own son was a doctor – his son was a doctor at Colchester Hospital, he took my appendix out, Dr Payne. So he was another one that used to be a bit grand in Witham.

Q:    It’s a lot different (Miss P: Yes) I suppose they got cars eventually, then, did they?

Miss P:    Yes. All sort of got cars. You never knew them then, not when they got cars and they were sort of – I suppose they used to go further afield.

Q:    Did the doctors have a car when you worked there?

Miss P:    Yes, yes. Though when I first went there, Dr Ted had a motorbike. Then he got a car. But Dr Karl always had a car. They both had cars. They both finished up with cars. But Ted used to be – because he was in the army, he was in the War, Dr Ted was. But Karl wasn’t. And when he came out he used to ride around on a motorbike. They both used to ride bikes, round the town. They used to do their surgery – visits round the town in the morning. Used to go out about eight o’clock before surgery. And go round the town and do a few calls and then come back about quarter past nine for surgery. Then go off in their cars. Come back about four o’clock for lunch in the afternoons. They used to go all around Terling, Wickham Bishops, Hatfield Peverel all round everywhere.

Q:    Did you go in their cars at all, when they first had them?

Miss P:    No. No, only once when they took us to Tollesbury for the day on their boat. They give us a ride in their cars but …

Q:     That was quite exciting wasn’t it? You must be getting tired now.

[General discussion, not noted]

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