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Stanford Court.

When I used to come down to Shelsley I used to stay with my Nan at New Mill Bridge until she sold the shop and moved to Birmingham where she stayed with her eldest daughter May Bennet and her family. Later, she came to stay with my mom and dad, After she left Shelsley I used to cycle down and stay with my cousin Marjorie Anderson [She was Auntie May Bennet's eldest child}. Whilst the City school holidays never matched up with those of the country schools, as the harvest season was more important to the country, they had their school holidays at that time of year. Nevertheless, somehow Des Wall and I always found ourselves together. We would cycle around the valley or throw a line in off the bridge near Nan's old house and try to catch a few fish. For some reason we never did manage to do so. There were a couple of places that were our favourite spots. One was Southstons Rock. There was a house on top of it in those days. It had been empty for a long time and was in a very unsafe condition with the main upright beams rotted out at their base. It was later demolished. Another favourite place was the wooded area round Stanford Court. This had been the country seat of the Winnington family who were related to the Churchills and a number of the latter family are buried in the churchyard at Stanford Church. One of the main attractions at Stanford for Des and myself was the lake that spread out from the front of the house. It teemed with life in the shape of very noisy frogs and had a considerable number of water birds such as Coot and Moorhen nesting around the perimeter and using the lake as a source of food. The house was empty but I had been inside some years earlier when we lived at Nan's. My Dad had a contract with Sir Francis Winnington to remove all the fallen timber in the wooded parkland around the house. He and a partner, whose name I will not give here, employed a couple of men to help them. One, I feel certain, was Stan Abberley and the other was just referred to as 'Tedney'. In addition I think about four German prisoners of war were engaged too. My sister and I became very friendly with the prisoners. Part of the equipment used to drag out the fallen timber was a Fordson tractor. This was also used to drive a saw bench which had a circular saw. On one occasion Dad's partner had somehow managed to get his one hand too close to the blade and managed to saw his thumb off at the top joint. The end of the thumb was wrapped in a handkerchief and there was a mad dash into Worcester to the Infirmary there. The end of the thumb was not sewn back on if I remember correctly. Micro surgery was fifty years or so away. Later, Dad trusted his partner to go into Worcester and bring back the wages owed to the workers. He was never seen again. He had cleaned out the Bank account and just disappeared. Back to Des Wall and myself. As I said, we roamed around the countryside and when Des was given a two man ex US army tent, we were in clover. We camped in numerous places but the one I recall most clearly was in an area close to Red Hill and near the stream that ran nearby. It was dark when we pitched the tent, settled down for the night and slept. When we woke up in the morning our mouths were very dry and we felt quite ill. The air was heavy with a horrid smell. When we looked around we had pitched the tent in the middle of a bed of wild garlic. Ever since then the smell of Garlic has made me feel quite ill - less so now but it still has an adverse effect on me. I have been known to walk into a restaurant and just one whiff of garlic sends me back out again. Many hours Des and I spent in Burch Coppice, slinging hammocks made from pig meal sacks and hop string, Making bows and arrows from the young Hazel trees in there and imagining we were being attacked by unknown and unseen enemies. What a carefree life we led. We were never bored even though we had no television. The Radio was the conveyor of entertainment, as were books and comics for the younger children. The one shining example of a GOOD comic was "The Eagle". It was entertaining and at the same time instructive. I understand its chief editor was the Canon Brian [or Bryan] Green rector of St Martins in the Bull Ring in Birmingham.

Written by Antony Cook. To send Antony Cook a private message, click here.

A memory of Shelsley Walsh in Worcestershire shared on Thursday, 29th March 2012.

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Comments

RE: Stanford Court.

Hello Antony Another wonderful picture you paint of boyhood days spent around Shelsley. I can't really add to it because, as I have said before, it is a little bit before my time. However, Stanford Court I do know because I worked there (very briefly) in the early sixties. By that time it had become a small factory making wooden boxes. I think the company was called 'Entwhistle and Bacon'. I believe that the Winnington family had sold the place by then to pay 'death duties', and had moved to Brockhill Court. Stories of the family's consequent impoverishment circulated throughout the valley - no doubt most of them wildly exaggerated. You mentioned Stan Abberley in your message, and I do remember someone of that name being about in my younger days. Tedney is a small hamlet just down the valley from Ham Farm, towards Whitbourne, so I suppose the person you referred to of that name must have come from that area. Best wishes, Philip

Comment from Philip Norman on Friday, 13th April 2012.

RE: Stanford Court.

Thank you Philip. Stanford Court was empty in the 1940's with the Winnington family having moved into Brockhill Court. I remember Sir Francis Winnington coming into my Nan's shop during the war. He was wearing Army Officer uniform and I seem to remember him having only one arm. I may be wrong but it looked to me, a mere lad at the time, as though his right arm was missing. Many of Britains families have been devastated by the iniquitous 'death duties'. Even my own family has suffered to the extent that we were brought down to a state of penury and lost the family home. I was talking to Des Wall on the phone last week and Stan Abberly came up in our conversation. Des, who was a native of the area, told me that this was indeed his name. I mentioned Tedney, and Des thought it may have been a nickname derived from his place of origin. This is not beyond the realms of possibility, for many of our surnames are derived either from a geographical location or a trade that our ancestors lived in or followed. As far as trades are concerned there is Archer, Arrowsmith, Fletcher, Bowman or even your own surname indicates your ancestral nationality. Geoffrey of Monmouth would have become Geoffrey Monmouth and so on.

Comment from Antony Cook on Saturday, 14th April 2012.

RE: Stanford Court.

You are correct Antony. Sir Francis Winnington did only have one arm - not sure how he lost it though. Presumably it was in WWII - he was too young to have fought in WWI (born 1907). I understand that he was a POW in WWII for a spell. The Winningtons are a distinguished family, with a long history. I believe the first Sir Francis was Solicitor General to Charles II. Incidentally, the Sir Francis Winnington that we know, and you referred to, only died in 2003 - he was 95. Now succeeded by his son Sir Anthony Winnington. Going back to Des Wall, I'm sure I did know him once - what year did he emigrate to Australia? Next time you speak to him, could you ask him if he knew Bob Morgan (my stepfather)?

Comment from Philip Norman on Saturday, 14th April 2012.

RE: Stanford Court.

Thank you Phillip for your latest comments. I have sent Des an e-mail concerning your step father but as yet had no reply. If you log onto the site "British History on Line" and add in the search engine "Stanford on Teme" you will find a comprehensive history of the area and of the Winnington family. I must admit to being surprised to find that a female ancestor of mine married into one of the early families who held the Manor of Stanford on Teme. You will see that the Foley family also became involved at one stage. I assume that this is the same Foley family who at some stage built "Foley's Folly" a building we all love and know as Abberley Clock and again, the same family that held Whitley Court at the time of the great fire. Abberley itself has a long history in that at one stage it was occupied by the soldiers of Owen Glendower the Welsh prince who challenged a decision of the court of Henry 1V against him. He led the Welsh in rebellion but retreated back to Ruthin when the forces of the said Henry set up camp on Woodbury Hill. Again this was all brought about by an ancestral cousin of mine accusing the Welsh of stealing his sheep.

Comment from Antony Cook on Friday, 20th April 2012.

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