“Old Timer” Reminiscence Short Stories
Old Timer Reminiscence stories by Jean Dyke (born 1928 – died 2002)
Originally written by Jean Dyke who (called herself ‘Old Timer’) for the ‘Swanbourne Newsletter’ from 1999 to 2001. Jean lived at Spuddlespits (19 Mursley Road), Swanbourne. Recently transcribed by Linda Rodgers.
‘Looking back’ (1920s – 30s) by Old Timer (July 1999)
There were no footpaths and no cars for the four daily walks to and from school, no facilities for food there so we all went home for lunch. On wet days, our clothing was dried off on the big fire guard round the fires in ‘the BIG room’ presided over by Miss Lee, and then the formidable Miss Clues, and ‘the LITTLE room’ where Miss Daniels reigned, also rather formidable to small children (and remembered for where she kept her hankie).
We always presented a play at Christmas for the village, which we diligently rehearsed after school, taking our tea with us, and walking home in the dark frightening ourselves with the ‘Bogey-man’ stories. There are one or two of us in Swanbourne who can well remember ‘Hiawatha’ and ‘Ace of Hearts’, and being fairies and flowers with tinkling bells sewn under our crepe paper frilled dresses. On St George’s Day, we always did St George and the Dragon after parading in the playground, raising the Union Jack and singing the National Anthem. One 20s ex pupil tells of playing Bottom in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ while feeling unwell and being rushed to hospital with appendicitis. He also tells of the yearly choir visits to the seaside (we had a good church choir). Also the pupils were taken by the Vicar, the Reverend Forrest, to visit Oxford Colleges and the Houses of Parliament.
Lady Cottesloe, grandmother of the present Lord Cottesloe, was very much into supporting missionaries and we used to perform missionary plays for her at the Old House. She also gave a yearly party in the Village Hall where the chosen few received prizes of books. There was much competition at schools for ‘ringing the bell’ for lessons. Different pupils were chosen to do so, depending on behaviour, or dare I say it, ‘favouritism’.
There is much more that could be related, but that is for another time.
‘Still Looking back’ (1920s-1930s) by Old Timer (September 1999)
As there were still very few cars around, most of us walked to the station which was quite a busy place then. We could go to Oxford shopping any day, also Bletchley and even to Bedford, a lot more easily than we can now. We had Charley Alderman as ‘carrier’ if necessary, and with his horse and cart, two lanterns on either side, he was a familiar sight, loaded with people, milk churns, parcels or whatever. Later on, Fred Ovens acquired a car, and he provided a taxi service when needed, even taking one family to Camber Sands in Sussex. I can remember as a child hoping to see ‘Anything Goes’ in Oxford one foggy night, but unfortunately it was too foggy and as the roads were mnore or less country lanes, Fred wouldn’t risk going, so I still haven’t seen it.
One big event that provided a topic of conversation for a very long time, was the coming together at the church corner of the Co-op coal lorry and a local farmer. Fortunately nothing was hurt other than their pride, but the language provided us watching children with a few new words, to our parents’ horror.
A ‘Social’ was often held in either the village hall or the C of E school. Always attended by practically everyone in the village, we were treated to a variety of entertainment. I remember Miss Florence F Fremantle with ‘Sea Fever’. She very often forgot the words and as we had all heard it quite often over the years, someone always said it for her; Mr Godden with his morris-type dancing; Jack Chandler with his ‘Herrings Heads, Muffin and Breads’; Mrs Wadd and her mandolin Band; Mrs Owen and Joan Attwell singing; a musical saw performance by Mr Fletcher of Mursley and the stalwart of them all, Bill Gurnett with his ‘Boys of the Old Brigade’. I can still hear his ‘Steadily shoulder to shoulder’ with everyone enthusiastically joining in the chorus.
Those were the days!!
‘Looking back’ (1930s) by Old Timer (November 1999)
In the 30’s and up to and into the war years, Swanbourne was more or less a self-supportive village. We had our own butcher, milkman, baker, undertaker, builder, cobbler and more.
One of the most visited places was the District Nurses Surgery. This was situated in a house in Mursley Road, fully fitted and equipped under the eagle eye of the then Lady Cottesloe who was very go-ahead in her ideas. Miss Bennett, having exchanged ‘Gardeners Cottage’ in Nearton End with Mr and Mrs George Walker, on the death of her father who had been Head Gardener at the Old House, was landlady to the Nurse who had two rooms of her own in the house. Everyone in the village paid a few pennies towards the upkeep of the surgery, and whichever nurse was in residence was kept busy with minor injuries and illnesses, and of course babies, as she was midwife as well. The Doctor was only called in an emergency as it cost 7s 6d a visit.
Over the years, the Nurses changed regularly, some returning, others never seen again, but there was always one here. One of the early ones married the local blacksmith, Albert Turvey, whilst most of you will remember Mrs Ted Alderman, who came as Gladys Underwood, and married Ted in Swanbourne Church, both now sadly passed away. But their sons Philip and Stephen are still here.
Having mentioned the blacksmith, he plied his trade at 2, Smithfield End, and the big doors to the forge are still there. As children, we were fascinated by the sight, noise and smell of the smithy, but I personally was too young to be allowed there on my own, and it was a special treat to be taken by my mother.
‘Looking back’ (1930s) with Old Timer (January 2000)
As I have said before, life was much slower in the 30s. It could take up a whole morning to do two or three errands. Firstly one could go to James Colgrove, who owned the butchers shop in Nearton End. He employed two men, Eric Colgrove and Maurice Kirby to work in the shop and deliver the meat if necessary, and also help n the slaughter house, which was at the bottom of the garden. Maurice was killed in the war.
Next one could visit the Post Office which was situated then in the house opposite the Vicarage. Polly Boughton ran this, and an event long remembered was ‘The Robbery’. GPO assistant, the late May Gurnett (then Tofield), was shut in the cupboard while the robber carried out his evil deed and escaped with his loot.
Canon J R C Forrest lived in the Vicarage with his three sisters – Mrs Featherstone and the two Miss Forrests – for many years. Maybe your next call would be to the shoemenders. Jimmy Harding had his cobblers shed in the garden at No 20 Winslow Road. This was usually filled with smoke from the pipes of the men who gathered in there on occasions, exchanging gossip and the odd ribald joke or two – not for children’s ears of course.
On the way, one might meet Albert Endell pushing his three-wheeled trolley with churns of milk on board doing his daily delivery of milk to every household. People always had their jugs ready, and if milk was required in the afternoon, a card would be placed in the window to catch his eye. Albert lived in Tattams Lane with his wife Maud and son Jack, and he brought his cows through the village from ‘Garnickers’ every day. He certainly would not be able to do that today!
‘Looking back’ (1930s) by Old Timer (March 2000)
We are still on our way round the village. The Co-op Stores was situated where the Winslow Road garages are now. As children, one of our weekly pleasures was to spend our pennies there. William Walker was manager in those days. Then Frank Allen from Winslow took over – his daughter Joyce still lives in the village, having married Wally Gurnett, whose recent death was marked by a memorial service in the Methodist Chapel. We used to hear grown-ups muttering about rats running around, and that added a little excitement to our visits – would we see one or wouldn’t we?? I never did!
We then would go to see Baker Ovens who, with his wife, three sons and four daughters (Rose, Daisy, Lily and Iris – all flowers!) ran the Bakehouse where the Tearooms are now. The smell of fresh-baked bread filled the air, and besides being able to buy it there, Bert, one of his sons, went around the village regularly, and neighbouring ones as well, selling bread and luscious cakes which Baker Ovens also made.
On the way, one could meet Jack Chandler taking the ‘Big House’ washing to the ‘Laundry House’ in Duck End. This was done weekly, I believe. Across the road from the Bakehouse was the Brooks family business. Run by George Brooks with his brother Tom, the Brooks were estate builders and carpenters, and also the local undertakers. George lived in the house with his wife, the late Madge Brooks (who only died last year at the age of 99 years) and twin sons, George and Cecil, while Tom lived with his wife Alice and children Margaret, Cynthia and Norman in Smithfield End.
As Mother’s Day will soon be here, I’ll recall ‘Mothering Sunday’ of yesteryear. We had a much simpler affair, and I do feel it was much more appreciated, as nothing was bought, it was all done with love only. We would pick violets or primroses from the bank on Petticoat Lane (Cemetery Hill). There were masses growing there then. With the card we had carefully made ourselves and hidden away, we would present them to our mothers at home. After doing little tasks for ‘Mum’, we went off to Sunday School where we were again given little bunches of flowers to take home. To me, and no doubt to others of that era, ‘Mothering Sunday’ was a ‘day of love’ with no commercialism or hype entering into it, and no money was spent either. We also were encouraged to take little posies to ladies who had no children of their own.
‘Looking back’ (1930s) by Old Timer (May 2000)
An event we children (and some adults as well if truth be told) looked forward, was the annual visit of the fair. With swing-boats, stalls and all the music and hoo-ha, it was like fairyland to us. The fair holders set up in Spuddlespits Field on the Mursley Road. I suppose it was a very small fair really in comparison to Buckingham, and others, but we loved it, especially the swing-boats.
Two other occasions that were special were the Silver Jubilee – George V and Mary of course – and the Coronation of George VI and Elizabeth two years later. In between was the Abdication of Edward VIII, later known as the Duke of Windsor. For these events, there were celebrations in the Manor.
House gardens. Sir Maurice and Lady Hayward were living there then, and the maypole dancing was a big attraction, boys in white shirts with their shorts and trousers, and girls in white dresses. All the maypole ribbons were of course red, white and blue, as was more or less everything else in sight. Flags flying round the gardens and the village had plenty of decorations as well.
I remember the posies and buttonholes of flowers being made and sold for a few pennies. The stalls were very similar to today’s fetes, but the ‘bowling for the pig’ was for a real pig, always donated by a generous farmer. There was always a queue for this, mostly men, but one or two ladies braved the banter and chivvying of the menfolk. Alas, they never won – not to my knowledge anyway.
Another day that was memorable in the life of a child was ‘Armistice Day’, as it was called before World War II. We lined up in the playground behind the ‘chosen three’, one wreath layer and two escorts, and marched to the War Memorial. It was considered an honour to be one of these ‘chosen three’ and much disappointment had to be hidden from Teacher. At the Memorial, we met the other organisations with their wreaths – the Guides, Mothers Union, WI, GFS, and of course the stalwart men of Swanbourne British Legion with their rows of shining medals. As all the wreaths were laid and the singing of ‘O Valiant Hearts’ took place, we children had a great sense of pride for the occasion, especially the ones that had a mother or father ‘on parade’.
‘Looking back’ (World War 2) by Old Timer (July 2000)
As this is the 60th Anniversary of Dunkirk, it seems appropriate to write of the Swanbourne men who were there. Three of them with the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry and one with the Royal Artillery. The wreath that is on the War Memorial now, remembers Harold Alderman, Bill Campbell and Charlie Harding who were together, while Ted Brigginshaw was with his Unit in the RA.
Harold, Bill and Ted were brought home safely on the ‘little ships’, but Charlie was not so lucky. He was at Battalion HQ, which was a one-time convent in Hargebrouk, where he was hit in the shoulders and back of the head during heavy fighting. While lying wounded, his uniform tunic was given to an artillery man also wounded, which led Charlie being mistakenly identified as dead ‘in a grave’ in France 18 months later. However, he was taken prisoner and spent three weeks in hospital being sent on a 1,000 mile march through France, Belgium and Holland on to Germany. ‘Home’ was then Stalag XXA in Northern Poland for the next five years. The POWs diet consisted of a loaf of bread between five men and a pint of potato soup each. Red Cross parcels did arrive very occasionally. The prisoners went out daily in working parties, and it seems likely that, although none of them knew it at the time, they were digging the foundations of a large concentration camp.
In January 1945, the men of Stalag XXA began the horrendous walk back to Germany. Those that fell out were shot and many hundreds contracted dysentery and frostbite. Charlie had dysentery, spent six months in intensive care and 18 months in hospital. He and his wife now live in Brighton and have done for many years.
Harold and Bill have sadly passed away some years ago. Ted was the first man from Swanbourne to get into the Army when war was imminent and he lives here still with his wife Rose.
Not many people will remember these men as boys, but they all form part of our village history, and must not be forgotten.
‘Looking back’ (World War 2) by Old Timer (September 2000)
This year is the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Swanbourne had the privilege of having its own fighter pilot living here. Anthony or ‘Tony’ as he was known, was the son of Sir Charles and Lady Bartley, who lived in ‘The Cottage’, Mursley Road. There were four children – Patricia, Tony, Christopher and Gillian (pronounced with a hard G, and woe betide you if Lady B heard you say it otherwise!).
Tony Bartley was born in Dacca, Bangladesh, where his father was District Judge, and he was educated at Stowe. He joined the RAF before the war, on a short service commission, having learnt to fly at West Malling Flying Club in 1938. He did a conversion course on Blenheims at Hendon and then joined 92 Squadron at Tangmere in 1939. Now in fighters, he flew sorties from Biggin Hill, and was awarded the DFC in 1940. He then went to Vickers Supermarine as a test pilot. Tony returned to operations in 1942, and was awarded a bar to his DFC in 1943. In 1942 he assisted in the making of the film of the Battle of Britain and the role of the Spitfire, called ‘The Fisrt of the Few’. He recently appeared in a TV documentary about the Battle of Britain, in the Secret History series.
Some of us still remember when he ‘beat up’ Swanbourne one Sunday morning during Church Service. Obviously one or two people were not amused and Tony was ‘persuaded’ to make an apology. We children thought it was a wonderful display put on just for us so that we would not have to sit through Rev Forrest’s sermon. He went on to marry the film star, Deborah Kerr. He subsequently divorced and remarried, and now lives in Ireland.
Of course there were other servicemen in the village, in all three services, but more about them another time.
‘Looking back and a profile’ (the Campbell family) by Old Timer (November 2000)
One of our great village characters is Jack Campbell. He is very much a Swanbourner as his parents, grandparents and great grandparents lie in the cemetery.
Jack’s mother, Annie, was born in Kilby in Leicestershire and came to the Old House as a cook where she met her husband-to-be ‘Ted’. When she occasionally went back home, Ted would cycle there for the day, no mean feat on a ‘sit up and beg’ cycle! When they married, their home was in Nearton End, where Jack was born, moving then to Duck End, Mursley Road and finally ‘Green Pastures’. Annie and Ted had an allotment in Mursley Road and Annie was a familiar sight carrying buckets of food to the pigs and chickens kept on the site as well as growing vegetables and flowers. Ridgeway Cottages have been built there since. She enjoyed her folk dancing and playing tennis, was a founder member of the Swanbourne WI and during the war worked for the WVS keeping the orange juice, dried milk etc for villagers to collect.
Ted had suffered from ill-health since the Great War, and so Jack lived for a time with his grandparents in Winslow Road while Bill and June, his brother and sister, lived with their parents. He went to school here and one Christmas, was excited to be playing ‘Bottom’ in A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, when he was suddenly rushed to hospital with peritonitis. Another occasion he remembers vividly was being in church, sitting between his Gran and Annie Harding (their next door neighbour) and turning round to grin at his mates, when he received severe digs in his ribs from first one and then the other lady. And not just once either – he was bruised for days!
On leaving school, he went to work at Dodley Hill Farm unitl Mr Cowell could no longer afford to keep him. So he went to work for Bill Kibble at Church Farm where one of his jobs was to fetch the cows twice a day for milking, quite a leisurely job in those days as there was no traffic. For a change he went to work on the railway near Stewartby but came back to work at Little Horwood Manor, and eventually John Holdom’s farm at Above Mead. On the outbreak of war, he wanted to join the Navy, but being in a reserved occupation, was refused permission.
One of the pleasures he and the local lads enjoyed was their Sunday evening stroll to Mursley. Wearing button holes (the in thing at the time) they eyed the girls in both villages and generally enjoyed themselves larking about. When the Land Army girls came here in the war, Jack had an eye for Margaret, who had come from Sheffield and was sent to Moco Farm. I learn from a very reliable source that he was smartly rebuffed when they first met during a carol practice. However, in time they were married in Sheffield, and lived in Buckingham. Frank Alderman, the Estate Manager then offered Jack a cottage and a job at Home Farm, where he worked for 37 years.
During the war years, he joined the local Home Guard, firstly known as the LDV – ‘Local Defence Volunteers’, or ‘Look, Duck and Vanish’ as the wags called them. This was mainly due to the fact that they had one rifle and no ammunition, and just two golf clubs to meet the emergency – literally Dad’s Army! However, they did get adequately equipped in time. Jack was often in hot water for marching too fast, causing amusement among the ranks. Their officer in charge was Geirge Brooks, quite a disciplinarian.
Jack and Margaret now live in Mursley Road, they have a daughter Christine who lives in Canada, a son Paul who lives in the village, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
‘Looking back’ (World War 2) by Old Timer (February 2001)
Memories of the war years in Swanbourne remain with many of us. Listening to Mr Chamberlain’s announcement at 11 am on September 1939 relayed in the Church, did not really mean much to the Sunday School pupils sitting sedately in the front pews – we were too young then. However, we began to realise pretty quickly that life was not going to be the same. The ‘big boys’ of the village went into the forces, everyone was getting black-out curtains, sign posts came down and all the iron railings were taken away to help with the war effort. This of course happened nationwide, but we only knew this village’s happenings.
There were ARP wardens appointed – Bill Kibble, Frank Allen and Fred Alderman. Special constables were Will Colgrove (who was Mrs Judges father), Con Willis and Charlie Heady. Charlie was very keen on stopping cyclists with no rear lights! It was very difficult riding a bicycle at night as regulations stated that the top half of the front light must be blanked with cardboard so that enemy planes could not see you – that’s what we were tols anyway. Sewing and knitting parties were organised, and the canning of preserves etc was arranged by the WI. Members took turns to have the cans delivered and everyone took whatever they wanted to be canned and sealed. This was done in the scullery where the copper filled with water was brought to the boil by the fire which was lit underneath. Wheelbarrows full of cans were a familiar sight up and down the village.
Evacuees arrived from London and a few families were given houses, and children who were on their own were places with local families. Some settled, some did not, but many of you will remember the Heaven family. Alf was in the RAF and his wife and children lived in a cottage in Station Road for some time until they moved into Ridgeway Cottages when they were built. Barricades were built by the Home Guard outside the village on every road, presumably to try and stop the enemy if they tried to invade us. Piles of ammunition were on the roadside everywhere on villages and main roads. Uniformed men, all shapes and sizes, were seen with tanks and equipment, and guns were often positioned in people’s gardens. Tins of bully beef (corned beef to you) were given to us as well as other goodies, and the girls had never seen so many young men. There were always soldiers around, and one particular lady (now deceased) told that she was caught in a mock battle on the way to the Co-op. The lady was scared stiff, but the battle was halted long enough for her to do her shopping and return home – much quicker than she went!
Joan Atwell, who later joined the ATS, married a soldier fro the Search Light Battery, which was based at the top of the Neptune Road. Other girls courted men from the Royal Signals stationed at Little Horwood or Whaddon. One or two eventually married them, and of course with four or five RAF Stations within a ten-mile radius, at least two girls married airmen.
During the war years, we were obviously growing up fast, so we could enjoy the regular dances weekly or more often, held in the C of E School which boasted a lovely dance floor at that time. All over the village, one could hear the music of various RAF bands and of course June Campbell and Pete were a very able duo on piano and drums.
During these years, we had several incendiary bombs dropped in and around the village, we were shot at by a stricken enemy bomber, several planes crashed in the area, especially one behind Nearton End, and an airman lost his life falling through a bomb door. I believe that he was found in one of Ken Reading’s fields. Many more things happened around us and the neighbouring villages – but that is for later.
‘Looking back’ (World War 2 years) with Old Timer JD (April 2001)
As well as evacuees coming to the village, we saw a lot more new faces. Some of us had servicemen or civilians who worked at Bletchley Park billeted with us. Of course, everyone wondered what was going on there, and came to the conclusion it must be a munitions factory. How wrong they were!
I really must mention our Land Army girls. ‘Townies’ they may have been, but they certainly soon adapted to village life, worked hard and joined in the village activities. I recall Teresa who married Ron Boughton, Joyce who married Fred Gurnett, Margaret who married Jack Campbell, Doreen who lodged with Mrs Campbell (Snr) and who married Bill Campbell and I must not of course forget Nora, who was Britain’s No 1 Land Army Girl and who married John Holdom. Margaret Pitts and Joan ? were lodged with Mr and Mrs Ginger who lived in Smithfield End. I cannot recall the names of one or two more girls who worked here, but lodged at the WLA Hostel in Winslow.
The two land girls working at Home Farm took over the milk round from Albert Endell and did the daily round in a pony and trap. This was quite a serene and peaceful task until one morning a lorry full of Canadian troops came through (a very common event, although not always Canadians) and their whistling and cat-calling of the girls was too much for the pony which took to its heels and bolted, eventually ending up in Tattams Lane with a very shaken heap of girls and churns.
During this time there were rumours of a German spy being caught nearby, but these were never substantiated. We were all so used to the Wellington bombers flying practically chimney-top height from one airfield to another that f there was no flying some nights, we could not get to sleep. Little Horwood and Wing were OTU’s used for training and refreshing air-crews. There were quite a few plane crashes around here. I actually saw two of them at Mursley myself, and when the Flying Fortresses came home from a 1000 bomber raid, one or two were so badly damaged, they attempted to land at Horwood. As the runways there were not intended for these huge planes, they caused slight chaos, but they survived, very luckily.
Following the mention of Joan Atwell in the previous edition’s ‘Looking Back’, David Ash has been in touch with her in her home in Penzance, and adds a bit more information about her. She was the adopted daughter of Frank and Emma Alderman, then at Green Pastures. She met her husband to be when she was a waitress at a WVS canteen, and he, Patrick Newman, was a searchlight operator at a nearby battery. ‘He used to write my name in the sky’ she recalls. Only in recent years has Joan revealed that her work at Bletchley Park, in its early war period, was helping to decode Italian Air Force signals.
After the ensuing ‘Ack-Ack’ duties near London, she volunteered to join an ATS attachment for service in India, a country she had always wanted to visit after reading Rudyard Kipling at school. Her fiancé happened to be in India and she and Pat were allowed one day’s leave to meet and get married in Calcutta, where a street riot was going on at the time.
In later years, her husband Pat went on to become the Chair of Transworld Publishing, where he handled the publishing in paperback of Dame Barbara Cartland’s many novels. He died some years ago, but Joan lives on cheerily coping with arthritis. She sends greetings to all her Swanbourne friends.
‘Looking back’ (Houses) by Old Timer (June 2001)
On several occasions, I have heard people remark that it would be interesting to know who lived in the various houses over the years. Some of them have been mentioned in previous issues, but this time it is the turn of Ridgeway Cottages. Although originally built as Council Houses, eight are now in private hands.
The houses were built from 1948 onwards, with the idea that the returning servicemen would be getting married and need homes. Numbers 1 and 2, and 15 and 16 were finished first. No 1 became the home of Jim and Beryl Bonham. He served in the Fleet Air Arm and married Beryl in 1947. Bill and Doreen Campbell moved into No 2. He was in the Army in Burma and other far off places, and as told previously, she was a Land Army girl. Jack Endell and Iris moved into No 15. Jack was in the Army and served with an Ack-Ack Battery. They married in 1947 in Rainham, Iris’s home. No 16 was let to George and Daphne Campbell, George was in a reserved occupation, working on his father’s farm at Dodley Hill. (Incidentally, an RAF mobile radar unit was stationed in the field near their farm, and in 1947, a Swanbourne girl married one of the operators, and they have lived in the village for some years, including at a later date in Ridgeway Cottages).
The other houses were gradually built and Bill Fryer, who was in the RAF, lived with his wife in No 3. He worked at the Bakehouse for a time with Mr Burridge. No 4 was taken by Alf Heaven, ex-RAF with his wife and family. They moved up from Station Road. No 5 was the home of Ron and Theresa Boughton. She was another Land Army girl. Ted and Gladys Alderman moved into No 6, with their sons Philip and Stephen, whom most of you know. Another Dunkirk veteran, Harold Alderman, and his wife Muriel, went into No 7. Next door at No 8, the Harrison family were the first tenants. Their daughters were both teachers, I believe, and Connie the elder married Albert Godden, a widower (Albert and his first wife lived by Swanbourne House) whilst Joyce their younger daughter married Ken Reading in the 1950’s.
Eddie Metcalfe and his wife and son moved from Great Horwood into No 9, while in No 10 lived John and Jean French, who had also lived in Great Horwood. John served in the Army during the war, and they are the only people from the original inhabitants still living in Ridgeway. In No 11, Mr and Mrs Rossiter resided, and next door in No 12 was Miss Featherstone and her brother Jack, who was quite a character! Their Uncle was the Rev Canon Forrest, the long-serving Vicar of Swanbourne. The bungalows, No 13 and No 14 housed the two Miss Brooks, sisters of George and Tom Brooks, already mentioned in previous issues as living at the other end of the village, and Mr and Mrs Brigginshaw, whose son Ted and his wife Rose, still live in the village.
In the two bungalows on Mursley Toad, lived Mrs Soton, the mother of the late Madge Brooks, and Mr and Mrs Morgan who moved to Swanbourne after their son-in-law Albert was employed as a chauffeur at the Old House. The Morgans came from a mining area of Wales and Morgan loved his garden and of course his singing and he was a well known local chapel preacher.
‘Looking back’ (Houses) by Old Timer (August 2001)
‘Green Pastures’, as the two houses opposite Ridgeway Cottages are called, were built around 1935. Owned by Lady Cottesloe, (grandmother of our present Lord Cottesloe) hey housed, in No 33, Albert Pearson, employed as chauffeur at the Old House, his wife Aileen, and children Ira, Ann and John. In No 31, (incidentally, in those days, numbering of houses was unheard of) lived Frank and Emma Alderman, with their sons Frank and Ted, also two foster children, Joan Attwell and Billy Quinlan. When Albert Pearson later moved to Aylesbury to start his Driving School business, Jack Campbell’s parent moved up there. Sadly Ted Campbell, who always suffered ill health, passed away.
The Aldermans then moved to Tattams Lane (No 17 I believe) and Harry Dubberley with his wife Nancy, daughter Alison and the later baby Geoffrey, moved to Swanbourne as the new Old House chauffeur. Further along the road are two pairs of semi-detached houses opposite each other. No 18 is where the Alcock family live, and next door Jack and Margaret Campbell who moved there when the senior Campbells went to ‘Green Pastures’. William Wadd, butler at the Old House for 44 years, lived at No 19 with his wife Rhoda. Next door were George and Alice Walker who, as already said in an earlier issue, moved to ‘Garden Cottage’ in Nearton End to take on the job of looking after the beautifully laid out gardens, greenhouses and beehives, and the small box-hedged gardens of the Fremantle children. All these people, as far as I can recall, were the first occupants, although I seem to remember once being told that No 18 originally housed a Nurse Keyes for a time.
The pub of course was, in all its glory, the hub of the village. Run by the Peacock and Cook families, ‘The Swan’ did an excellent trade. It was where the men folk of the village gathered to play dominoes, darts etc or just to fool. Of course, women were not allowed, and fruit machines and jukeboxes were not heard of. ‘Kelston’ was not even a tiny thought in a builder’s mind.
In Glebe House lived Mrs Hugh Colgrove, ‘The Duchess’ as we fondly called her. She was followed by her son William and his wife, parents of Nancy Judges, who came from Hensmans Farm. Sir Charles and Lady Bartley lived in the next house, ‘The Cottage’. The Hall was originally The School, but not in my memory. The School House was divided into two, with ‘Nursey Malins’ (the Old House Nanny, now retired) in one part, and Mrs Owen and family in the other. Mrs Betts, who lives in the village today, was her daughter. No shop was built then, Mr and Mrs Gilkes lived in No 3 and kept the Post Office, with the phone kiosk sited by their door.
In Deverells Farm lived a family called Roach. Then Jim Bonham with his wife Freda, brother Tom, and children Kathleen and ‘young’ Jim, plus Grandpa Bonham and Grandpa Keen, moved up from Nearton End into the main road farm.
‘Looking back’ (Mursley Road houses) by Old Timer (October 2001)
The Baptist Chapel, now known as ‘Whittlewood House’ was in use until the 1960s. One of the last services to be held there was the funeral of Ted Ash. He collapsed and died at the Remembrance Service in the Church in 1964.
Then comes the cottage – where the Misses Boughton lived until John and Sheila Price moved in when they married. Mrs Price and her son John are living there today.
Jack Harding and family lived in No 10. One of his sons Albert was disabled and had the job of pumping the Church organ (not the one there now) every time there was a service. These were held two, if not three, times every Sunday as well as special occasions, and as he only had the use of one arm, this required a lot of stamina. But I cannot recall that he ever faltered.
The Morris’s lived in the next house by The New Walk, and Mrs Morris had a wide reputation for her homemade wine. Her wheat wine, especially, made even the old stalwarts’ eyes water (so I am told)!
As we pass The New Walk, memories of the Salvation Army Band playing under the trees on a Sunday evening, or carols at Christmas come to mind. The Old House, where Lord and Lady Cottesloe and their family lived, employed quite a few servants. The Lady, who was grandmother to the present Lord, was a familiar figure on her ‘sit up and beg’ bicycle and her green ‘bloomers’.
The last two cottages in Mursley Road were occupied by Mr and Mrs Walker and Selina Ash, who lived where Mr and Mrs Betts do today.
‘Looking back’ (TattemsLane) by Old Timer (November 2001)
Going down Tattams Lane today, it is getting harder to remember what it was like before the bungalows and houses were built. There were just three houses then. No 1, or No 15 as it is now, was where Albert Endell, the milkman, and his family lived. His orchard, full of fruit and other trees, stretched up to the Mursley Road. I can remember visiting them quite often as Jack (their son) was the proud owner of the ‘Just William’ books, and if in a good mood, his mother would lend me one to read.
The second house was the one where the Timmins live today. A small ‘claim to fame’ is that Derek Bonham, who was a top executive in the Hanson Trust, and is currently in the news trying to sort out Marconi affairs, was actually born in that house, and he still has close relations living in Swanbourne. Fir Tree Cottage on the corner was where Tom and Gwen Viccars lived until they exchanged with Tom’s parents at Moat Farm.
Around the corner, where the Blunt family now live, which incidentally used to be the pub (before my time) Mr Davis lived. Then Mr and Mrs Walters and their daughter Louie moved in from Station Road. Louie later married Ron Newman who worked for the Co-op. Malcolm Ash and his family live in the house that his father and grandfather lived in before him. Quite a character, Malcolm can tell many an interesting tale, especially about the Italian prisoners of war that worked on their farm and their antics.
Father Tofield and family lived opposite the Ash’s, while next door to Athawes Farm lived Teddy Evans who was a source of delight to Nearton End children. He apparently had three keyholes in his door and could never fit his key in the right one at his first attempt. The children used to see him coming home and watch with bated breath. Will he make it or will he not? I was not told if he ever did! George Alderman and family followed on into this house and Ken Reading, with his parents, went into Athawes Farm, I believe after Hurst’s, but I am not completely sure.
Who was the author, Jean Dyke? By Frankie Fisher
Jean lived in Swanbourne all her life. She was baptised in the Church in 1928. She was the daughter of Mr & Mrs Wadd. He was the butler to the Fremantle family and came from Wistow, their estate in Leicestershire. Mrs. Wadd, who was from London, was a very devout woman and a fine violinist. An only child, Jean attended the Village School. She married Len who came from Dorset and was stationed at the Radar Station in the war. They went on to have four children, two boys and two girls. Her daughter Trudy still lives in the village; now back in the house where she was born.
Jean was a tireless and enthusiastic worker in the community, busy with the Playing Field Committee, playing the piano for all sorts of village occasions and always ready to support village concerns. She was, for a while, the village post woman, doing her round with her bike. She had a strong interest in village history, writing the Old Timer pieces for the Village Newsletter.
After a busy and active life Jean died in September 2002 aged 74. Her husband Len died the following year aged 80.