Aldbourne Heritage Centre

Q: Right Andrea, we can go ahead, and perhaps you would like to tell me your first early memories of the village.
AW: I can remember part of my first day at school and remember one of the teachers was Mrs. Moulding. She was a very sweet kind person and I remember thinking at the time “what a big room” because when you see it now it’s not, and we had the small chairs. And I can remember having my bottle of milk at school, and I enjoyed school. That’s really my first memory of going to school.
Q: And the school was up by the Church?
AW: It was the Infants School which is still there and still used, the bigger school they took down, which was a lovely flint building, but I enjoyed school in the village. I can remember we could go to school when were quite young without having to be taken, it was safer then you know? It was more fun.
Q: Did you walk with a crowd, friends?
AW: As I got older, yes. Mind you, over this area there weren’t many children anywhere, because there was a couple of people down over this way that I played with.
Q: This way being by the Butts?
AW: I can’t remember what year they built those houses down Farm Lane. I know the Bendle boys. They must have gone up quite early because I was, Mum and Dad were friendly with the Bendles, Peggy and Wilf Bendle and they had three boys, so I really only had boys to play with. (Chuckles)
Q: What sort of games did you get up to?
AW: Well, of course we had the farm.
Q: Oh yes…
AW: And you were outdoors all day if the weather was fine and, we made camps and we played cowboys and Indians usually, you know, and we had so much space to play in, and we could go out into what is now the football field. During the War there were Nissan huts out there because the soldiers were there and when they took the huts down, you had great big areas of concrete left, so you could roller skate on those and you could play out there a lot – yes, great days. And also I always had a pony on the farm, so I used to ride a lot.
Q: What was your pony called?
AW: The first one I have a photograph somewhere of me in the Carnival when I was two on a pony called Topsy, and then I think the first proper pony I had when I could ride properly was called Tubby. She was a very fat little black pony, Dartmoor. She was lovely and I used to ride a lot then, and on the farm, if the cows were right the other end of the Downs, they’d send me off to herd them back in, and I’d ride round there and bring them in to be milked.
Q: So what else have you to tell me….
AW: I’ll just run down these questions to see…. I can remember I belonged to the Brownies. We didn’t have the Guides then, just the Brownies and I remember I think Betty Gentry or her sister Margaret Gentry …. She had a sister called Margaret….. they did the Brownies for a while, so we used to go up there…
Q: Where did they meet. In the Village Hall?
AW: No I think it was at the School….
Q: I see, what sort of things did you get up to in the Brownies?
AW: Long time ago; we used to have to take tests, we used to have to learn things like how to lay a table and, I really can’t remember an awful lot. I know we used to have a day out. We always used to have Brownie Outing, and we used to go places like Weston Super Mare.
Q: Quite a long journey?
AW: Mm, yeah…. And I suppose it was a treat also; we used to get days out because we used to have to go to Sunday School at the Chapel, because Grandpa was a lay preacher and my Mum had always played right from the age of twelve and her mother used to play the organ at Chapel, and my Mum also played the organ as well.
Q: Where was the Chapel?
AW: It was Lottage Road, which is now rebuilt, pulled down and rebuilt. It was chapel in the morning and Sunday School in the afternoon and I can remember Sunday School Anniversary when you used to…it was a special Sunday…. I can’t remember what time of the year it was, and all the children from Sunday School would either have to recite a poem, or sing a song or something or other, and used to have a new dress and sit upon this kind of stage thing and perform, it was awful (chuckles). Then also, with Sunday School, we used to have an Outing each year to the seaside, but there again, yes, we always went by coach, there was always a coach there, sometimes going to places like Weston or other seaside places, Bournemouth I suppose, always to the seaside and things like that, so we used to look forward to going out, that was a treat. And another thing which was a real treat was the Fair, Aldbourne Feast, we used to really look forward to that. They didn’t used to come for Carnival like it does now. It was a real thing to look forward to the Fair.
Q: Did you have holidays with parents?
AW: Yes, there was always holidays to friends of parents or relations. We used to go down to Norfolk and we used to… my parents had friends who lived in Ware in Hertfordshire, and then they would come to us for a holiday on the farm, so we sort of, you know, we’d go to them, they’d come to us. But you would never go on holiday as such, in a hotel or anything like that, and only the well off went to places like that so…but then….living on the farm…up until the age of eleven….I really enjoyed being at this school and being on the farm, It was such fun on the farm, we always had something to do out there, there was always feeding the cows. Before we had a tractor I can remember going with Grandpa in his horse and cart and we would go along to a field and it would be full of mangols and we’d dig up all these mangols for the cows, and fill the cart, and we’d go feed all the cows with the mangols then we’d go to the hayrick…. We used to have big knives to cut the hay in the rick, and then you’d feed the cows the hay. There was always something going on the farm, there was always things to do and plenty of room to have fun, you know. When it snowed, when it used to snow properly, we were always out all day, we would just keep coming indoors and changing your wet clothes. We’d spend all day on a toboggan on the Downs… I had a really lovely life and it wasn’t until I passed for the Grammar School that I hated going to school.
Q: Where was the Grammar School?
AW: Marlborough, and you had the Grammar School, and if you didn’t pass for Grammar School you went to the Secondary Modern, they called it, just on the top of the Common where the Marlborough Golf Club is and it was all huts left over from the War I presume, and um….my brother, he didn’t pass for Grammar School. If you did go to Grammar School you had to stay there from Mondays to Fridays see, and I hated that.
Q: So a semi- boarder, then?
AW: Yes. The first year because there was a great big house in Marlborough called Wye House, and that’s where all the Boarders from villages who couldn’t get home stayed, but an overflow was to certain couples in the town. I had to stay the first year with a very odd couple at the time. It was dreadful, really dreadful, I was so unhappy, and because of it I didn’t really work as hard as I should at school. Then eventually I got into this Wye House and there, obviously, you had to have rules and regulations, the same as at school, boys at one end, the girls at the other end and you only met for mealtimes or part of the evening in the Games Room. I hated it, hated it because I missed the fact that I couldn’t ride; we weren’t allowed out in the Town, so really those few years at Grammar School I hated. I couldn’t wait to leave.
Q: You looked forward to your weekends?
AW: I looked forward to my weekends and of course I rode the pony. I was outside again on the farm and doing things. I was never one for being indoors cooking or sewing, or doing the things I should have been learning how to do. I’d rather be outside, the same as I would now really. I love being outside.
Q: Can you remember the village? Were there a lot of shops in the Village in those days?
AW: I remember the sweet shop…
Q: Where would that have been then?
AW: Well you know where Aldbourne Engineering was? The next house along.
Q: Along Lottage there?
AW: No. Aldbourne Engineering, just opposite the Post Office it was. There were petrol pumps there, but that was up to recent years. There was a house on the corner just down below Audrey Gilligan, there was a house along there, that used to be a shop. A Mrs Stacey, I think her name was, and I know she sold lots of lovely sweets, but there was also a butcher’s shop. You know where the butcher’s shop is now, that used to be a house there, as well, and there used to be a butcher’s shop and quite a bigger house there, so that you had a narrower entrance going round that corner.
Q: Opposite Toad Hall?
AW: Yes., yeah, used to be a butcher’s shop there. And I can’t remember…
Q: Were their fruit shops and vegetable shops, greengrocers?
AW: There was a shop where the Post Office is now, that was always a shop and where the Co-op is now, that was open under the first people I can remember there were Wally Palmer and his parents; and that was like a Draper’s shop as well, they used to sell drapery stuff, like cotton and wool and that kind of thing. There was a shop where Raffles is, a Mrs Liddiard. Her husband was a farmer.
Q: What sort of shop was it?
AW: She used to…it always smelt in there of animal feed… but she used to sell wool and things like that, she had lots of wool and…..
Q: There was a lot of knitting done in those days?
AW: Yes.
Q: Knitting clothes for children, you don’t get that nowadays.
AW: No. I don’t blame them, I hate knitting. That shop was there because her husband was a farmer and he had cattle and you know where the Glebe is…
Q: Where is the Glebe?
AW: The estate on the left hand side as you come to the Pond opposite the bus shelter, that’s the Glebe isn’t it….that was a farmyard in there and he would bring his cows from Four Barrows down across the road to his barns there everyday. You can imagine the mess, but I often wish that he still did it just to…so that some of the people that come to live here would know what it was like to live in a real village…. And stop moaning.
Q: Do they?
AW: Well you get …. People moan about things now don’t they, but in those days it was a natural thing. You don’t expect a village to be spick and span. It’s a working rural community, isn’t it?
Q: Was there a farrier in the village?
AW: Oh yeah, yes, you know where the library is, there’s a workshop next door and behind there, back in his yard, he used to shoe my ponies, Alan, his father; actually I can’t remember what his father’s name was… but one of the sons is still alive because he lives in the cottage just along from the workshop. And, yes, his father used to shoe them, then he taught his son, not like it is these days where you have to go to College to learn how to do it.
Q: General smithing as well?
AW: Yes, yeah. Very very good really, specially Alan the son, he was quite clever and made all sorts, but I can remember his old father. That brings back memories.
Q: What was the entertainment when you were a youngster in the village?
AW: I remember we used to have a travelling cinema. He used to come once a week to the Memorial Hall and do the same at Ramsbury, and I can’t remember his name, but… he would sit there and often the thing would break down halfway through (chuckle) but yeah we did go to the Cinema occasionally. I used to read a lot, of course had my pony, and we had friends and you made your own entertainment. Like tobogganing in the winter and playing outside, it was all…. There was no television, we had radio. I can’t remember anything else.
Q: You didn’t have card games or anything like that?
AW: No we didn’t in our house. I suppose I did a bit of sewing and knitting but they weren’t really much fun, not to me anyway.
Q: The Carnival you were saying….
AW: Yes, we didn’t used to have a Fair with the Carnival, we always used to have a dance on Carnival evening at the Memorial Hall.
Q: Did you have a Carnival Beauty Queen?
AW: Yes, but they didn’t; you didn’t choose somebody, you sold tickets, and the person who sold the most tickets was Carnival Queen.
Q: Were you ever a Carnival Queen?
AW: Not till later, after that time The Carnival, I can remember one Carnival, it was absolutely pouring down with rain. It was throwing it down and of course most of the costumes were made out of coloured paper, can’t remember what you called that paper now…
Q: Crepe…
AW: Crepe paper. And at the time we had a donkey which on the farm, which belonged to Dr. Mills in Ramsbury, and he asked Grandpa if we would have it because the thing made so much noise where it was in a field, somewhere in the middle of Ramsbury, and everybody in Ramsbury moaned about it. Grandpa was very friendly with Dr. Mills and he said “could we have the donkey?” It was a wicked donkey, but we were getting ready for Carnival this day and my brother was going to ride the donkey, and I was going to go in on my pony. Well, all the sheds were full up except one so my brother was helped to get ready in one of the sheds, but we brought my pony which was so well behaved indoors to get ready for the Carnival. I remember that now, she was as good as gold. She stood indoors, didn’t make any fuss or any mess and we dressed her up, and me, indoors and off to Carnival. That’s one memory of Carnival. We always enjoyed Carnival. And we always entered. We were always, my parents and my Grandpa, we always took part because we felt that you should do. I was in the Carnival when I was two. So it was great fun.
Q: Did all the family live together, your grandparents….
AW: My grandfather did because that was his house that I was born in along the road. His wife died when my Mum was about fifteen, so she looked after him then for the rest of his life. I mean, it was his farm, and I can remember….my father wasn’t a farmer, he was a tradesmen, he was a carpenter and joiner. When he came back from the War, and I can’t remember a great deal to begin with, but I know he didn’t really settle to having to milk cows twice a day Sundays as well….he didn’t really enjoy farming, and, course, Grandpa was a County Councillor. He was an Alderman eventually, and he spent a awful long time away from the farm. It wasn’t a big farm, it never made any money because Grandpa was never there, and then my brother… he would have loved to have taken over the farm, but by then my Dad had gone back to work as a carpenter and my brother and Grandpa had a really good relationship but if they worked together, that would have gone because Grandpa was…. He was quite….he wouldn’t modernise and he was quite happy to sort of trundle along, not making any money, but just existing. Then going off to his Council meetings here there and everywhere; and my brother got rather upset, and it would have finished their relationship. So in the end, apparently, this field had been taken over, we have been told, as a Council estate so Grandpa was persuaded to sell that field …..
Q: That’s where the Garlings….
AW: That’s where the Garlings are now and across the road where the Downs and the first two bungalows are….. that was allotments and a field. I think Grandpa only rented the Downs or leased the Downs, he didn’t have a great amount of land of his own, but I can remember being very sad when the cows went. But these things happen. Farming in those days was so different; I mean haymaking, you’d make a rick, nothing was baled. I used to drive the tractor but wouldn’t be allowed to these days because of Health & Safety, no way would you be allowed to drive a tractor. But harvest time was great.
Q: Everybody pitched in?
AW: It was more labour intensive so there was a lot more people and you would…..and we had the binder to cut the corn and tied it up into sheaves and then you would go round and make stooks; I think that’s what their name is; about five or six sheaves of corn. Then after a few days with the stooks standing, you would go round with the tractor and trailer; we had a tractor then, and bring them back and make a rick with an elevator. I can remember it always seemed to be better weather in the summer in those days and I’m sure it was, I’m sure it was; and my Mum would bring round a big enamel jugs of cold tea for the workmen and I used to spend all day round there. I’d be out there the whole time. You know, I’d be allowed to drive the tractor while they were loading up the trailer. You wouldn’t be allowed to these days. And then, of course, later on in the year, it would be threshed to separate but you’d always have a rick again, but they don’t do that anymore do they. The don’t make ricks any more, which is a great shame. It used to be a lot more fun. I know now its all profit.
Q: Do you have any memories of the war time?
AW: Only seeing these planes coming over, loads and loads one day and I don’t know where they were going, whether it was.. could it have been the D Day landings or… I couldn’t have been very old because…I could only have been four or five. I really don’t know, I wasn’t aware….I remember the noise and just seeing, they just kept coming, just kept coming, that’s all I can remember and I do know that we had soldiers …. We had the 101’s out there…
Q: The Americans?
AW: The Americans.
Q: What is now the football field?
AW: What is now the football field, they were out there for a while and they were giving us apparently chocolates and goodness knows what; but you had,… my mother said, you couldn’t be too friendly or else they would; she was on their own along there, because Grandpa had a bakery, he was helping in a bakery in the village, and she was on her own till quite late and early morning and sometimes she said “Good morning” and they would come knocking on the door at night. And, of course, she didn’t have any houses there, but then you had the British soldiers. We have got a photograph of lorries all the way down parked all down the road…
Q: Southward Lane?
AW: Yeah, Army lorries and she said that the one that was on guard, the British ones, you could go out with a cup of cocoa and give them and they were OK.
Q: The Yanks were a bit too forward?
AW: Mm, yeah. I can remember too the floods, was that ’47? It was a bad year, there was lots of snow wasn’t it, and it flooded when it melted and of course we didn’t have all the drains we’ve got now and all along there, along the Garlings, was a field, and we lost lots of pigs apparently and chickens that were all drowned. I can remember vividly my Uncle Vic, Cyril and my Dad’s brother, carrying me up the road through water this deep… a couple of feet.. to sleep with a neighbour up the road because we were all flooded. Yeah, the road outside was flooded. I can remember that. So that was a bad year I think.
Q: With regard to crime, was there a village policeman?
AW: We had a policeman, I can’t remember his name… Mr. Waite was the first policeman I can remember. Pete’s father was a sergeant at Rambsury, Sgt West, and he had a big area to look after, only had a bicycle; I know my brother and some of his friends, I could guess who they were but I won’t say, set fire when smoking up in one of our sheds up the road and that set fire and we had to have Sgt. West over to ask him questions the next morning. That was before I knew he would became my father-in-law. But crime, I can’t remember anything…. Not like it is…. No you didn’t lock your door, and you didn’t have to worry about going off, I’d gone off all over the Common and that with friends and you didn’t have to worry, yeah, I mean you didn’t think anything of it. You weren’t frightened to walk round the village in the dark, whereas even now I think you’d be a bit wary.
Q: There weren’t street lights then?
AW: No, we had nothing along here. I can’t remember if there was anything…. No there was nothing up this road because there was no…. there was only our farm house and the big house at the top, where Mr. McPhedran lives, that’s all there was, apart from tractors, there was nothing. Grandpa always had a car.
Q: Do you remember what sort of car he had?
AW: No, I’ve got a memory of when he took my brother and myself to Badminton Horse Trials, oh, a long long time ago. My mother and father didn’t go, I don’t know where they were, and he took us there. He used to take us out. I can remember one night, I don’t know where we had been, coming up Marlborough High Street in his car he had. Somebody came out to the middle and hit Grandpa and we shot up the pavement into the, I think it was Salisburys, the name of the shop that sold musical stuff, electrical stuff, and we went into the window. I can remember that, but I don’t know where we’d been, or where we were coming back from or… but we were on our way home and I can remember this car coming straight out and hitting us and up we went.
Q: I suppose there wasn’t a lot of traffic about?
AW: No, it was great. No, but then it was…..I love this village. I call it my village because I was born here and I don’t really like all the things that go on now. Its…..people don’t take a pride anymore. You know, you would never drop litter and that when we were younger, or never have. It happens now, its such a shame. Everywhere is so dirty and untidy. I don’t mind the normal rural life like mud on the road, things like that, but I don’t like litter and there never used to be full of litter like it is now.
Q: The manure used to be collected from the horses?
AW: Well people put that on their gardens. They moan about it now, but then that is the difference see, the people you’ve got coming into the village now a lot of them, I’m not saying all of them obviously, but if a horse did a dropping on the road you’d come back that same way that was gone, that was on somebody’s garden. Yeah, I think its ……. I like to see a village stay rural.
Q: Was there a doctor in the village?
AW: There used to be apparently a Doctor Varvill who used to live up Castle Street but I can’t remember going to him. All I can remember is Neals, you know where Neals is on the main road? That used to be a doctor’s surgery for the Ramsbury doctor, Dr Mills….
Q: He used to come over?
AW: Dr Mills worked seven days, seven nights a week. He was at the time the only doctor, and he would come out any hour of the day or night. But if you wanted to go to the Surgery we’d go down there. There was no appointments, you would just go down there and sit in the room…one of the rooms and just wait your turn, and he’d stay there as long as there were patients there. Yeah…..
Q: There weren’t telephones I suppose to ring him up to make appointments?
AW: I can’t remember. Well, they just didn’t do it by appointments. You just went to sit down in that room.
Q: You were going to add something about the school, the big building?
AW: Oh the big building was a lovely flint building and I think it should never had been pulled down really.
Q: Whereabouts was it?
AW: That was in the car park below the junior school, which is now….I’m not sure what they use that for now.
Q: At the top of Back Lane?
AW: Yes, the small school, you go up the steps to the small school, then you’ve got the Vicarage above, but the big building was below in what is now the Car Park and……..Mr & Mrs Wood were the teachers. He was Headmaster and we used to have a curtain across the middle to separate the classes, but it was a happy school, it was good, yeah.
Q: Did you have a playground?
AW: We had a playground. We used to play in the playground, skipping and all sorts of things.
Q: Did you have the sports once a year?
AW: I can’t remember us doing that. No. I really did enjoy that school. The teachers….. you got good education there.
Q: Did you start your art interest when you were at school?
AW: Not during school I don’t think. I was always good…. My writing was always… there was me and another girl and we were always tying for first place for our writing. Oh, I did quite well at school. I’ve still got a book which I was presented with for coming top of the class. It was only when I got to Marlborough because I was miserable and away from home ….and seeing my brother go home every night was so unfair. I didn’t do so well. I could have done better. But that was my school days. I couldn’t wait to leave in the end.
Q: Thank you Andrea
AW: I’m sorry it’s taken up so much of your time.