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Childhood Years From 1948 58

A Memory of Barningham Hall

I first saw Barningham Hall from the back of a removals van as we pulled into the yard along side, it looked enormous then, I was 3yrs old, my father,(later known as Mac by every one) was to become Major Mott-radcliffs( later to become Sir Charles) chauffer/handyman and mum was going to help in the kitchens, the first few years we lived in the small cottage in the yard then later moved into the flat above garage and stable where we could often hear the horses stamping around in the night. The gardens were huge and I often played in them with my sister when the "Motts" were away, The kitchen garden was superb with all sorts of fruit and veg that we could pick and eat, many times I hid amongst the fruit trees with my best friend Jimmy and watched as the head gardener Jack Fuller went by but didnt see us, in one of the greenhouses there  were really nice grapes where we would hide on cold days as it was always warm in there. At the back of the hall is a big lake which we were told not to go near but being kids we did, in the boat-house was a punt that we used to get in and eat some of the fruit we had "scrumped" from the gardens.The "coronation" in 1952 was a good time as we had a big party in the park with lots of food and pop followed by games, all the villagers and estate workers came and this was a very memorable time. At christmas time my mother organised carol singing at the hall and after-wards we were invited in for mince-pies and lemonade. In the village hall there would be christmas party for all the estate workers organised by Sir Charles when every-one could get to-gether and enjoy them-selves eating, drinking, then dancing. The cricket matches in the summer in front of the hall were all-ways a good time, the summers seemed much longer and warmer then¡ I loved the winters at Barningham as soon as snow came we didnt have to go to school, my dad used to take me in the land-rover with a snow-plough to clear the roads, was good fun for me but not for dad. I used to love the fire practice at the hall once a year when a bell would be ringing and we would all wait on the front lawn for the fire-brigade to arrive, it seemed like hours as they had to come from Holt & Sheringham then they would run into the hall and start lowering people from first floor windows on ropes, thankfully they only ever had to do this in practice. The shooting season also brings back good memories as I was one of the beaters and could earn ten shillings(50p) for ten hours beating, at the end of the day I helped to unload all the pheasants and partridge and hang them in the game larder where they stayed for 2-3weeks before the butchers came to take away. I remember once seeing Sir Charles walking back from the church and chatting away to him was my young brother, I hid in some tall grass at side of road and as they walked past I heard my brother say "my dad calls you Old charlie boy" "does he now" said Sir Charles, I cringed and was quite worried thinking that my dad would get the sack, however nothing more was said thankgoodness. On the edge of the woods behind the hall was a little cottage (no electric no water) a little old lady that we knew as Granny Grout lived there and about once a month my dad had to take a tank of water in the land-rover to her, I always thought she was a witch as she always had a scarf over her head and candles alight in the house but she always had some home made toffee for us, but I still wouldnt go there on my own¡¡ My childhood memories of Barningham Hall are all very happy ones. In 1958 we moved back to London, much water has passed under the bridge since those days, now many years later I have retired and am living in southern spain but my memories of my time at Barningham Hall will always be treasured.

A memory shared by Anthony Mackay , on Jan 3rd, 2008.

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