My Mum Valerie Merrikin, nee Nichols, was born next to the old pub (recently knocked down) in Skeffington. Grandad Nichols worked at the hall and got the sack because he picked up some wood in the ground for a fire. This meant they lost their home and had to go and live somewhere else, 3 Sunrise Cottage, Brook Lane. When they moved they found an old suitcase full of baby's bones which caused a big hoo ha, and apparently a Miss Bents used to live there previously and she worked in the poor house.
Knowing this when I went to stay with my grandparents just after my Dad, Bernard Merrikin, died in 1973, I was rather frightened and made all the worse when Grandad Nichols used to snore all night long and the doors rattled.
One morning I woke up to a raucous sound coming from the garden and it was Grandad chasing some ducks from Simmingtons White Hall out of the garden and it was so funny that Nana Kit and I laughed so hard we fell on the bed in stitches as he shouted " Then ducks, them blimming ducks". I also remember traveling on the Post van which took passengers around all the villages near Billesdon picking up the post and being head over heels with Richard Graytrex, about my age, in his early teens, I used to be permanenty on the bus.
I also remember visiting Showaddywaddy's band member's grandma in Brook Lane, which at the time made,me feel like the bees knees..., as that's when the band was at it most popular.
Nanna was full of tales about the war, shrapnall landing in her back garden whilst she was out on her air raid shelter duties, as a German plane had been hit near by.There was also a prisoner of war camp up on Gaulby Lane with Italian prisoners and apparently Nanna like many families used to have priosners round for tea on a Sunday.
Nanna's parents were Tom Taylor and Amelia Rose Taylor, nee Tuggey. Grandad Taylor was a soldier out in India which is where Nanna spent her childhood, Bombay and Calcutta I believe, in the days of the Raj, with sisters Frances, Alice, Dorothy and Brother Tom. Nanna got so ill one day they thought she was going to die, but she asked for beer even though she was a girl and so Amelia granted what could have been her last wish and she survived, Amen. Else I wouldn't be here. Tom I believe fell off the train messing about on the way to somewhere in India and Aunty Dot who was always a bit risque ended up in a tiger pit. So when Nanna told me these stories I was often somewhere later in my wildest imaginations.
Aunty Fran and Uncle Joe Surman lived in the Vine Cottage on Leicester Road, the last one up the hill. Uncle Joe worked for the AA and Aunty Fran used to work in the local shop whilst their daughter Elaine Ware was a nurse and also lived in the village with husband Jim Ware, sons Mathew and Nick.
Years later I discovered that when Nanna was sent into service at a young age she fell pregnant and no one ever did find out who the father was, so one can imagine the terrible time she had when she came home in the late 1920s as her parents were highly thought of, but Grandad Nichols who always loved her married her and took Eileen as his own. Now it's not about dishing the dirt but it's history, real life, and girls then didn't have any benefits, help or sympathy, which is why many people ended up in the poor house. However Amelia Taylor had been an orphan herself in Portsmouth when her naval father died of tb and later on her mum why her brother was one of the 100,000 children shippped to Canada as child slaves.
The taylors lived in the bake house, and before that they lived in Gaulby lane just round the corner why we used to go for walks there on Nanas memory lane.She told me how Mum went to school at Church Langton, and Mums first boyfriend was Mick Toon who took her dancing. Nana used to work at the doctors surgery.Oh yes one memory was going into Hoare's shop on the main Leicester Road in the village and being terrified by the old fox's head and remember the musty small and very old advertsing pictures hung up in the shop. Years later as an antique dealer I would have loved to have had a good rumage in there before it was made into a house.One place where we liked togo was Rolleston Hall where Grandad Nichols and greart Grandad taylor used to work as Gardeners, in fact I was told they used to cut the grass with scissors..in the war it was a soldiers rest home plus Mum and aunty Eillen used to go there for walks and picnics.We still go there now but its all keep off private property, yet its always been an important part of all our family.
Once when me and Mum went there we got shot at during the pheasent season.
Oh yes and lastly Nan told me that Once when Grandad taylor took his dog out Policman Kirk arrested him and took him to court for sheep worrying and the pst dog was shot..I could go on but Billesdon was and is a magical place of lots of memories...People realted to us Zankers who married into the Taylors, Seatons, Nichols, Debenhams,Nana once said that all the families in Billesdon where all inter related. you can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
A memory shared byon Mar 12th, 2008.
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