The Headmistress of Birling School was Miss Bragger who lived in the schoolhouse a few steps from the porched door of the school. Miss Bragger taught the 7-11 year mixed classes. Mrs Dyke had charge of the 5-7 year olds, she had the most deadly aim with small pieces of chalk which came your way if you misbehaved. Each year we danced around the Maypole in the grounds of Birling Manor where a fete was held, we also had a ceremony for Empire Day, 24th May. I managed to be dressed up as Britannia on 2 occasions. We also had a service at the war memorial on November 11th each year, even in a snow storm we would be there. We always had to put a concert at Christmas. We held our Brownie meetings in a hut which was quite near the pub (was it the Bull?). I seem to remember the W.I. held jumble sales in the same place.
I remember the village shop cum Post Office with the kettles, pots and pans hanging from the ceiling, and rows of sweets in jars on the shelves. I remember the garden had beautiful peonies. As I couldn't go home for lunch, I would spend time talking to the blacksmith just opposite the school. Sometimes he would let us children swing on the bellows to get the flames high for heating up the horseshoes, thankyou Mr Blackman for that and also for mending my iron hoop for free. I think there was a chestnut tree near the forge.
To get into West Malling, we could catch a small bus near the Post Office at 7am, 1pm, and 5pm. I think the last bus came back about 8pm to Birling and then went on to finish its run in Ryarsh.
What a happy childhood I got from Birling.
A memory shared byon Jun 8th, 2009.
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