Some Memories From 1916 To The 1950s

A Memory of Chilton Foliat.

My father believes the man in the carpenter's apron in photographs 60995 and 60995x may be Francis New. The carpentry business he is standing in front of was eventually taken over my grandfather, John Bray, and his brother William. In the directories they were listed as wheelwrights but they undertook a much larger range of buiding work some of which is still on view today, e.g. the lych gate of the church which was built as a memorial to the dead of the Great War. My father remembers them making a coffin for the last of the Cannings family at Bridge house. Sadly Miss Cannings died in relative poverty and there was no money for a funeral so her coffin (complete with body) was transported in the back of my grandfather's converted Standard motorcar to its last resting place near Swindon with my father holding on to it to make sure it didnt fall out!
My father, who is now in his nineties, remembers a life which seems to resemble an episode of 'Upstairs, Downstairs'. Sir John Ward had three chauffeurs, four footmen and a butler (who drank a bottle of whisky a day). He clearly remembers a grand society wedding when the Household Cavalry acted as escort and members of the Royal Family coming for the shoot.
Although my father passed the entrance exam to the grammar school when he was ten there was no transport to Marlborough at the time, so he wasn't allowed to go. Instead he stayed at the village school where the schoolmistress paid him half a crown a week to feed her four pigs and help in the garden. Unfortunately, he was also asked to clean a car on a Sunday and my grandfather objected to him being asked to work on the Sabbath so he made him work for him after school instead. He was still paid his half crown but had to hand the all money to his mother to help towards his keep.
My father left the village to join the RAF but returned for a few years after the war. My mother had been brought up in Croydon and found country life very different (and difficult), particularly as we were living in East Soley at the time. Many years later, I discovered that by an amazing coincidence (entirely unknown to my mother), her own grandmother had been the daughter of the farm bailiff at East Soley in the mid nineteenth century but had left the village when she married.
I left the village when I was around six or seven years old but I still have very happy memories of fishing for tiddlers in the river with a jam jar. I remember being in the school play as Jiminy Cricket, with my sisters playing Geppetto and Pinocchio! I also remember the Coronation when my father won the prize for the best decorated cottage.

Added 17 November 2009


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