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Childhood Memories Of Ewyas Harold
A Memory of Ewyas Harold.
My paternal grandparents, Wright and Bertha Veall, lived in Ewyas Harold for many years at their small farm named, 'Woodside' situated on a hill about a mile from the village centre and just off the road to Rowlstone. To reach it, you crossed the narrow bridge facing the Temple Bar Inn, passing the Spracklings' house on the right and the Dales' cottage on the left, the last in a small row of dwellings. Farther on, there was Addis's farm with a large hayloft and an orchard of deliciously sweet cider apples, quite a number of which sometimes fell on to the road and could be picked up and eaten. About a hundred yards further on was a narrow river into which the cider must was tipped in autumn and over which was a sandstone bridge on which I used to whet my pocket knife. A road led off to the right up a hill to the James's farm.
I was evacuated in 1941 at age 8 for nine months from London to Ewyas Harold to my grandparents during part of the Blitz and attended the local primary school. This was run by a Mr. Phillips (who did not believe in sparing the rod for the slightest misdemeanour, I recall!) and his wife, who also taught there. The small, redbrick schoolhouse was divided into two large classrooms and had outside lavatories that were very cold in winter. On the way to and from the school from the village centre you passed the tiny post office on the left run by an elderly lady, Miss Wingate. She also sold a variety of things - sweets and chemist's products - and I recall once being very sick from eating too many 'Victory V' chlorodyne cough lozenges that were 'off the ration' !
Next to the Castle Inn, the other village hostelry - since possibly renamed - and set back from it around the corner was the general store (which I think was called Warren's) that sold just about everything from hobnailed boots (a pair of which I, being a big-city boy, couldn't wait to acquire to be able to slide down a slope in the playground on icy mornings like the local lads!) to groceries. To the left of this was the entrance gate to the village church which I attended on Sundays with my grandparents.
Overlooking the village was the hill called 'The Tump' off the Dulas road where my friend, Peter, the son of 'A.A. Mailes, Family Butcher' and I used to roam. There were just a few small reminders of the ancient castle that once stood on it. I remember that a colourful, but quite harmless local character by the name of Monkley (who always seemed rather 'over-refreshed' and whom we bad lads used to tease) had built some kind of a shack, or lean-to up there where he lived.
There was also a smithy at the edge of the village on the Pontrilas road where you could find discarded horsehoes outside and take one for luck! It's now likely also long since gone....
Over visiting from Canada back in 1988, my wife, a son and daughter-in-law and I drove around the West Country and passed briefly through Ewyas Harold. We stopped in at the Castle Inn (a Mr. Ireland was the innkeeper, I believe) and drove up to what was once 'Woodside' and found it was now a dairy, or a building contractor - I can't recall now exactly what. Sadly, the house had been remodelled beyond recognition, the former lawn, vegetable garden and livestock area had all been paved over and I recalled the wisdom of the adage that, 'one should never go back'.
I often walked to Pontrilas where, being an avid train enthusiast, I used to wait for the (very!) occasional GWR train to pass through and record its number. We found this station had long since been closed and was now a private dwelling.
Some of my fondest memories are of the lovely, rolling countryside around Ewyas Harold, the distinctive red soil (of which I was reminded many years later in Kenya), the fields and the hedgerows full of big, fat hazelnuts in autumn and birds' nests in the spring!
Now 76, I'm happy that these memories are still vibrant and will, I hope, evoke a recollection or two of Ewyas Harold in other people of my vintage!