Church Cottage Brantingham East Yorkshire - a Memory of Brantingham.

My twin sister and I were born at Church Cottage in 1939. I am the youngest of 9 children born to the Medforth family, 6 of whom are still living. My mum and dad were the caretakers of Brantingham church for nearly 40 years. Dad was the local gravedigger for Brantingham, Elloughton and Ellerker, all done by hand in those days. He also mowed the grass in the churchyard, looked after the boiler in the church and any jobs which needed doing at the church. He also mowed the grasses around the village and kept the becksides mowed using a scythe, and cleaned the becks out with the help of some of the men in the village. He was also the local barber meeting his clients very often in the Triton, were most of the village men gathered for a chinwag and a singsong. Dad had a great voice and loved to get everyone joining in, especially after a few pints! The Triton was owned by the Watsons in those days. They were also the local blacksmiths and joiners in the buildings adjoining the pub. I still have a wooden wheelbarrow with a metal-rimmed wheel made by them which was my father's. They also owned threshing machines which they took out to farms on threshing days. They had steam rollers and steam engines situated in the yard too. It was a majical place for kids, watching them make things and shoeing horses. The farms in the village had shire horses which we often saw clip-clopping their way down the street to their work in the fields. Mum cleaned the church every week, cleaned the brasses and the lights and washed all the surplices. There were no hoovers then, it was all manual work or washing machines to do the washing. All the washing was done with a dollytub and dollystick, scrubbing and boiling. The ironing was done with a flat iron heated on the black kitchen range which she used to have to black lead regularly. We had no electricity in the house or in the Church when we were young and no running water either. The water was carried from the well across the road opposite the church wall in the wood. Not many people know it is there. I have heard it is called Monks Well where the monks stopped and always left a piece of clothing on the tree. There is also the local sheepdip situated near the back of the church, recently renovated. My dad and other men in the village, and us children when we were old enough, and some ladies too, were in the choir at the church. We had to attend twice a day and sometimes at funerals and weddings if required. What a grand sight we were in our gowns and caps walking down the aisle. We also had to attend at choir practice once a week too. We had Sunday School every Sunday as well. Every year we had a Sunday school trip to Bridlington which was a great event as not many had transport then. The village would be practically emptied with everyone taking advantage of a day trip out as not many were lucky enough to go on holiday. My sister and I were luckier than some as we eventually had a sister living in London, it was a great adventure to go there! Dad was also the bell-ringer at the church, having to peal the bells twice on Sundays and other occasions. Dad worked at the woodyard and in the forest cutting down trees (with handsaws) and re-planting and clearing the brambles and rubbish away. He was also skilled at cutting and laying hedges the old way. Both Mum and Dad had a hard life working all hours, Dad also kept a large garden full of vegetables to keep us fed. Every bonfire night we had a large bonfire in the field behind the cottage for the whole village to enjoy. Dad was usually put in charge of it and Mum would bake loads of potatoes in the range for us all. We had one village shop/Post Office run by Mrs Andrew, now in her late nineties, and for a while by one of my sisters. The village hall was the hub of the community with dances, weddings and other celebrations held there. We had quite a few of our family gatherings held there, as well as at the cottage. The Medforth family were known for their big family get togethers! All the children in the village were very lucky to be able to roam freely exploring and climbing trees, paddling in the becks and sometimes bunging the sheepdip up to go for a swim. In winter we sledged down the field behind the cottage it was very steep and you could often land in the ditch at the bottom if you didnt steer properly! At Easter we would roll our coloured hard boiled eggs down the field, a tradition we kept up for many years. Not many were lucky enough to get a chocolate egg in those days! At Christmas time the choir went around the village carol singing and we would end up at Brantingham Thorpe where we would be treated with orange juice and mincepies, the menfolk probably had whisky or beer! All the people looked out for us children in the village even those without children welcomed us into their homes. Looking back we had a great childhood so much freedom. The village has expanded since then, the Triton has been extensively altered, there is no blacksmiths shop, or Shire horses, to see. The village shop remains and one or two farms. Times have changed!

A memory shared by Jean Carr on Mar 14th, 2010. Send Jean Carr a message

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