A Lovely Devon Village - a Memory of Tipton St John.

We moved to No. 6 Tipton Vale in 1950. Maureen a baby, myself (Valerie) and parents Eric and Joan White fom Fenny Bridges. The house was a new council house, pink and blue. Dad dug out a bank at the rear and we found hundreds of flint arrow heads, knives and tools which we collected in Oster Milk tins and left in the garage. They should have gone to Exeter museum. I started at the school in November 1950. We played in the big trees of the Angela Home where children with T.B. were sent for treatment and took them comics and toys. In springtime the whole school would walk up to the hills above the Sidmouth Road and pick primroses, violets and bluebells to send to schoolchildren in London. I loved these beautiful days. I remember making the Easter Garden in the church. One day I found a hissing adder in the school sandpit. Miss West took the Infant Class and Miss Richardson the senior's. She was awarded an O.B.E. I remember asking to go to the toilet during school lunch in the village hall and Miss Richardson thought this most improper and I had to follow her as she processed up the hall holding her apron out in front of her. We were in the village hall at lunch-time when the death of King George VI was announced. The cooks were very tearful and everyone was sad. June 1953 and on Coronation Day a big bonfire was held opposite the hall in the field. We spent weeks making flags and bunting to hang outside our houses.
Maureen was the angel Gabriel in the church one nativity play and looked so beautiful standing up near the altar with long blonde hair and wings. I read the lesson and couldn't understand what the word "travaileth" meant so I asked the Rev. Edwards who said "works hard" and I was none the wiser. I sang in the church choir. Maureen and I regularly attended Sunday School in our big bonnets and net gloves and best silk dresses made by my grandma. I loved collecting the Sunday School stamps and sticking them in the book. The new graves with their grass mounds fascinated me and I couldn't understand why they went flat. The bank of the church used to be covered in primroses in the spring and ox-eye daises in summer. Our next door neighbour was Cynthia Clay, the other side was Christine Vicarey - I am in touch with her mother but would love to hear from Cynthia or about her. One Sunday in the month we walked to Venn Ottery for the service in the church there. We played in the fields and banks going down to the river and in the summer swam, minding the whirlpool by the bridge. One day we watched as the otter hunt went along the river bank towards the mill, the riders gaily attired in red with the hounds. Later in the day we were horrified to find an exhausted otter in our garden - Mum hid him in the garage until the hunt had gone and he was set free in the brook at the end of the road. We caught minnows in the brook and picked marsh marigolds in the meadows, getting very wet and muddy - we took our clothes off to try and dry them on the bushes in the recreation ground so that our parents didn't know what we'd been up to - it didn't work! I once caught a brown trout in my wellie in the brook for my tea. Dad took me mushrooming, we collected firewood and would often walk to Fluxton or Metcombe. I saw my first badger in its den in the bank of the field opposite. When I was 8 I started school at St Nicholas in Sidmouth and caught the train or bus to school. The train needed 2 steam engines to get up the hill to Sidmouth. In the floods Rev. Edwards kindly picked me up and drove me through the flooded river to get home. My father was in the R.A.F. and worked in the recruiting office in Exeter; at weekends he worked in the garage for extra money. We loved going to the Golden Lion with our stone bottles for ginger beer. Mum would walk with us to the telephone in a kiosk opposite the shop to phone the butcher at Ottery and I remember being terrified when she asked me to hold on to the phone whilst she went to the shop for more change. Mum would take us on the train to Sidmouth or Exmouth to the beach which we loved. Dad would tinker with his old M.G. on a Sunday morning and then put my sister and I in the back for a run up the Exeter road in the afternoon with us encouraging dad to go faster (60mp.h.) to beat the train. Mr. Benje the newspaper man gave me a black kitten on my 8th birthday, when we left Tipton to go to Scotland she came with us and back to Kent 3 years later, where I now live. For so many years I pined for Devon and the wonderful village of Tipton. I have often paid a visit on our journeys to and from the West Country. I envy all of you who still live there and hope childhood years are still as beautiful but I appreciate how lucky I was to live in Tipton during those 5 magical years which I shall never forget.

A memory shared by Valerie Jordan on Feb 5th, 2011. Send Valerie Jordan a message.

 Comments & Feedback

Tue May 5th 2015, at 5:30 pm
Barrie Ward commented:
A lovely memory, especially about saving the Otter!
Funny how one's memories seem to invite thoughts of' what if' and 'why didn't I' !
Wed Mar 20th 2019, at 4:28 pm
Mark Newberry commented:
Delightfully recalled and presented. Well done Valerie. Your words and recollections bring to mind
the post-WW2 childhood memories of the late Torbay writer and unflagging champion of nature, Brian Carter - so vividly and poignantly recalled in his book "Yesterday's Harvest".
Mark (S. Devon lad, currently living in retirement in London).

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