A Grand Spell of Sunshine - The Life and Legacy of Francis FrithA Grand Spell of Sunshine - The Life and Legacy of Francis Frith

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Childhood Memories

A Memory of Stadhampton.

I lived in Stadhampton from 1949 - 1952. When I was eight years old living in Rutland my parents split up leaving my Dad with three small boys rather suddenly. As was often the case in those days I was shipped out and came to Stadhampton to live with my aunt & uncle Lottie & Reg Wood during term time at what was then No1, The Close in School Lane (after other houses were built in the row it became no11).
It was an interesting and rather scary experience, for all parties I suspect! A middle aged couple with no children suddenly have their routine and space invaded by a fairly lively and large 8 year old used to playing with two brothers noisily.
I went to the village school at the end of the Lane which is now a private house. At that time the head teacher was Mrs Burston who wore her hair in a bun and was very strict but fair. She lived in the school house with her husband of whom I remember very little. They had a grown up son who had at some time been in trouble and was spoken about by the adults in whispers behind their hands!!
I have a class photo taken I think in 1950 or '51, needless to say most of the names have faded with the years though I do remember Diane Cherry, Jean Quarterman, Malcolm Munday and Richard Sherwood whose parents lived at the top of the village green and with whom I played a lot.
My Auntie Lottie worked at the school in the kitchen with the cook who was Mrs Currell. This was not good news for me as it meant that every move I made in the class or the playground was closely observed and chastisements were forthcoming on a pretty regular basis! I particularly remember that we were all told to play very quietly the day that King George VI died (February 1952). Unfortunately the gravity of the event was somewhat lost on the boys in the top class, firstly there was definitely no football allowed in the playground and even the marbles games were not without excitement for which we got into big trouble.
At that time the council houses in "The Close" built I think in 1931 did not have the facilities that we all now take for granted. There was no mains water, everybody got their water in enamel pails from a tap just inside the gate in front of Mrs King's house. The toilet was a wooden privy adjacent to the shed behind the house the disposal arrangements meant that all the houses had magnificent rhubarb and runner beans !! Cooking was on a kitchen range or a parrafin cooking stove and having a bath was a pretty major and infrequent event. Compared with the other cottages in the road The Close was fairly new.
Uncle Reg along with lots of other men in the village worked at what was then Morris Motors in Cowley and like many others almost his whole working life was spent there. Fleets of double decker buses came out to all the local villages early in the morning to take people in to work at Cowley and returned them again in the evening. At that time the Morris Minor was the new big thing, I think production started in 1948.
There was a stream which ran past the end of the garden and that is where I learnt to fish for tiddlers having been shown how to get the worms for bait to rise from the lawn by pushing a garden fork into the turf and moving it to and fro. It was commonplace then to watch kingfishers competing for the same fish.
A couple of places of interest for a young lad were the bakehouse which then was behind what is now the filling station and shop. I don't remember the baker's name but he was very fat and kindly so if you behaved yourself and helped to tidy up it wasn't unknown for a currant bun or better still a piece of lardy cake to be passed out of the door.
The blacksmiths forge just across the grassy area from the church was fascinating and a really good place to be on a cold day in the winter, we all wore shorts all the year round then!
Sunday School at the church on Sunday afternoon was a fairly regular occurence, persumably it gave the grown ups a bit of peace for an hour. Close to the church on the main road there was a white painted house from where I used to go and collect the milk.
Very few people had cars so recreational pursuits were local and unsophisicated. The cricket matches were very well attended and there was a thriving football team. Speedway was a very popular sport in those days but strictly for the professionals. However there was a very popular cycle speedway league, a track complete with cinder surface was created on the village green. The participants were older teenage boys mostly and the local hero was a chap called Geoff Ring who lived in a thatched cottage opposite us.
I left Stadhampton school at the age of 11 by which time arrangements at home had changed, sadly without my mother, and so I returned to a secondry education in Rutland. I have very fond memories of my time in Stadhampton where life was a lot slower than it is now.
Uncle Reg lived at 11 The Close until he died in 1974 and Lottie moved to the then new old peoples bungalows in about 1980 and died in 1987.
My uncle Reg remained at 11 The Close until he died in 1974.

Added 19 May 2012


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