By Joan West in conversation with Mabel Janes
Mabel Janes lived at Sunnybank, later to be called White House Farm in Highwood Bottom. Her parents were Boas and Caroline Janes. Boas was recorded as a poultry farmer.
Bounded to the north-east by a private bridleway and Grimsditch, to the south by Highwood Bottom - the old road from Speen to Loosley Row by-passing Lacey Green - and to the North and East by what had been Kings Wood, which was common woodland where people would go to pick up wood after high winds. Recently felled, she remembered people still going there to dig up the chucks (roots) for firewood.
Across the valley at the top of the opposite side was a footpath which ran from Speen to Loosley Row. People walked this path to collect the 'poor money' which was paid out at Loosley Row - 2/6d (12.5p) per week.
Mabel knew Emily Ginger who lived with her sister Ann who kept the Black Horse. Emily was a simple soul. She always curtsied to the big crab apple tree in the back meadow of Stocken Farm because it reminded her of Mr.Brown who had farmed there until 1885.
When William Saunders was farming at Stocken farm Mabel could sometimes hear shouting from Sunnybank, for he had a very loud voice. Life was hard, when asked "What did you're parents do if they had the toothache?" she answered "They just had to lump it."
Extra money was hard to come by. Stone picking in the fields was always welcome for some pin money for the women.
Mabel started school at Loosley Row where the 3 to 7 year olds went. Quite a walk for a three year old from Highwood Bottom. At 7 they moved up to Lacey Green. Minnie Brown, just one year younger was her friend throughout their long lives (See Minnie Brown). By 1904 all ages 3 to 13 were taken at both schools.
It was in 1904 that Mabel became a teacher at Lacey Green, where she was a schoolmistress for 45 years. The school then consisted of two rooms, a small one for the infants and a bigger one for the other grades. She thought there were between 70 - 100 pupils and at times three teachers and a headmaster.
The boys could take the labour exam at 11 years and then take a job, perhaps say, holding the head of a plough horse or such.
Edith Crook, who walked with a stick, (the daughter of John Crook, a superior type who was farm bailiff at Stocken Farm for Mr.Forrest) was a suplimentary teacher.
Connie Redding, daughter of another bailiff impaled her leg on the iron railings at the school.
She remembered Mr.Forrest having a pipeline laid from Stocken Farm down to Grymsdyke to take any overflow from the water tanks at Stocken. He then had a well dug a Grymsdyke. Mabel was told it was 303 feet deep, but when there was a drought, possibly 1893, it was taken down another 48 feet.
During the First world War the Royal Engineers were billeted in the village. They took the small schoolroom and the Home Meadow at Stocken Farm next to the school. The horses were stabled at the farm and exersizes were done in the field. The farm dining room was made into an army hospital and the grain store into their blacksmith`s workshop. Mabel recalled parties at Stocken Farm where I imagine they played cards.
In her old age Mabel lodged in the village and most days, sometimes twice a day, could be seen catching the bus to Risborough or Wycombe to do errands for anyone she was able to. She died just a few days off her 100th birthday.
More Reminiscences of My Girlhood
By Con Baker - the oldest person in our village. Recorded in 2000, when Con was 91, for Dennis Claydon, our local historian and Parish Councillor.
When I was born in the cottage at Loosley House, my father was the chauffeur there and my mother a nurse maid. I had a very happy childhood there. Dad was driving the only car in the village at the time and I used to run up the back way to the front door. It was really great fun living there, when we used to care-take there. We used to go down this grassy bank on a tin tray down as far as to the tennis court at the bottom of the bank - great fun. There was a plantation we called the Wilderness, and there used to be grapes in the green house which I was never allowed to touch of course.
I am going to tell you about the Loosley Row Baptists Sunday School which was very enjoyable. At half past ten we had to be at our class dressed up in our best, after on a Saturday just wearing any old rubbish, so Sunday was the day for dressing up. Off we went to Sunday school and had our names called and put down in the register. You were given a little ticket with a text on it; you collected all these tickets and when you had so many you had a morning hymn book. Then we had a prayer and a hymn, which was nearly always "God sees the little sparrow fall, it meets his tender view". We had that with Mr Lacey playing the violin and another gentleman on the organ. Mr Albert Rixon would take the class of girls and have a reading from the bible and perhaps another prayer. By that time it got round to 12 o'clock, so off we went back home again.
We went home for Sunday dinner, which was quite an event: Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with horseradish sauce, which my dad always made. It was so hot it made tears come in my eye - after that, apple pie. Then back to Sunday school for quarter to two. Name-call again, then a prayer or hymn. Then the congregation started coming in and we had to sit on the platform and the parson would come. My goodness the sermon went on for hours and hours. But it was only half past three and as a special treat we were allowed out before the parson. Then home for tea and then a walk with my Mum and Dad, sometimes to Speen Farm where my aunt lived and sometimes to Downley Common, where another aunt lived - which was quite a walk.
At school we had the scripture exam. That was always in November, freezing cold, and we used to go in the mornings. The minister used to come from Hamden, I don't know whether on a bicycle or not, but it was always freezing cold and he always had a dewdrop dripping from his nose, which made the children laugh, although we didn't dare let him see us. But woe betide, you didn't stand much chance of getting the Bishop's prize if you went to the Methodists' Sunday School or the Baptists Sunday School, which I went to. It was nearly always the Church children who would win the prize, but I don't know, perhaps some of the other children did win. After the scripture exam, those of us who had bicycles went to Hamden Glade to get chestnuts. The eating ones, which was quite a lot in those days, which was quite fun, but what I remember mostly is the freezing cold - in November!
We got this concert up in the Village Hall. There were a whole lot of us, and the men borrowed the top hats from Mr John Saunders who used them for funerals: we girls wore blue dresses, very very fashionable. Harry Church did the lighting and Cath played the piano. We used to have the rehearsal on Good Friday. Good Friday was a nice day, we used to take a picnic and have real good fun. Easter Monday was the big day, we were all so excited, the village hall was nearly full and we really enjoyed ourselves dressing up and singing. We had a jolly Easter Monday entertaining the people of the village
Just a few words about the foundry at Loosley Row, which has been going for 200 years. My great-great-grandfather started the business and my family has carried on ever since, with my father who ran it for some years and my husband the late Fred Baker. Now we are very lucky and have got Graham and Geoffrey Baker who run the foundry, my daughter Jennifer who runs the office and my grandson Jeremy who is the wrought iron man - what he can't do with a piece of iron nobody can. They still make the most beautiful things. They have just done a piece of commemorative wrought iron work for West Wycombe church on the hill which takes 30 candles. Graham has done some wonderful chandeliers, very large ones really. During the war I used to have to help in the foundry blowing the bellows, melting brass, and I had to help carry the crucibles after casting with the iron. Now it's aluminium casting because they stopped us making iron. After all those years the government or overseas trade stopped us doing iron which was our living but we couldn't afford to have the furnace done so away went our trade. But we're still busy most of the time making things that people want, like weather vanes with owls, ploughs, dogs and horses. At the moment Graham is making a racing car - so we continue. May God bless us and keep us going.
An "Old Boy" Remembers School Years At St John's School
My Name: Douglas Brett
Born: 16 December 1917 Left School: 1931 Aged 14
I was born in Chiswick, London at the end of World War 1. The Zeppelin raids were causing chaos and my mother cared single handedly for my brother Stanley (2 years older than me) myself and my Grandmother who was totally blind and dying of cancer. We moved from London to Naphill when I was a baby largely to escape the air raids. My father had abandoned us, paid no maintenance and severed all contact. I saw him once when I was about 8 years old for a few minutes only. Life was hard and it was 12 years before Mother got a divorce.
I started school at Naphill at the age of 4 for 2or 3 years until we moved to Lacey Green. We lived in a thatched cottage opposite the famous Tennis Courts (now demolished) in Church Lane. Our house had been condemned but the law was not enforced. It was rented from Fred Floyd local farmer. It was very basic. One bedroom, living room and tiny kitchen. There was a public footpath right through our garden and a pond 100 yards away. Because of close proximity to a small farm we were often overrun with rats which ran riot under the thatch and floor boards and there were masses of cockroaches.
Mother obtained the job of Gardener at the Vicarage, a hard and poorly paid job for a woman and my brother Stanley and I started school at St Johns about 1923/4. I must have been 6 or 7 years old. There were only 3 classrooms and 3 teachers, each taking more than one class. Some, I believe had had little formal training. In the Infants class I had my first punishment metered out - I had to stay behind after school finished and write out 50 or 100 lines "I must not talk". After completion teacher asked if I would now tell her what I was talking about. Reluctantly I said "I was asking Miss if you were married". She smiled and sent me home. I was unaware at that early age that the title "Miss" signified an unmarried state.
In many ways life was simpler then. No mains water and electricity, no radio or television, no media hype brain-washing children to demand designer clothes, trainers, etc. and the computer hadn't been invented. In many ways though I think we were more contented with the simple things of life. In the early 20's there were no buses and only 3 or 4 cars in the whole village and many children walked long distances to school. Pocket money was unknown.
Harvest time was a source of great excitement for the boys when the corn was cut and brought to the farm for thrashing. The farm above the school was a favourite haunt and we would stand round in a circle with sticks, and as the sheaths of corn were pitch forked on to the thrashing machine out would tumble numerous rats and mice. These we attacked with great gusto. Sometimes we went in the dinner hour and put a few live mice in our pockets - these we took back to school to release in the classroom in mid-afternoon to the consternation of teacher and the girls who stood squealing on their seats.
Money was short. The recent World War I had left economic depression and the weekly wage was little more that £2. There were only 2 village shops and for clothing, shoes, etc., we walked to Princes Risborough.
Baker's Round - A Baker from Risborough used to deliver bread round the village by pony and trap. He would wait outside when school finished and together we would go round the surrounding villages - Speen Highwood Bottom, Flowers Bottom etc., delivering bread in a big wicker basket. At other time I went to Fred Floyd's Farm Dairy. A large wooden churn was filled with cream which I would turn until converted into butter. Sometimes I delivered milk. We were not so mercenary as today's children and either performed tasks freely or for a few coppers.
The absence of cars meant that the main traffic was from horses and carts. I remember when someone was very ill near the school, straw was spread across the road to muffle the sound of cart wheels. Although no one had private telephones news spread quickly when someone died. The Church was notified and the bell tolled slowly once for each year of the dead person's life.
My mother later became Cook Housekeeper to the Vicar (Rev. Richard Gee) and his wife. They had been Missionaries in India before coming to Lacey Green. It meant early rising especially in winter when it would be quite dark on leaving home. We would stumble round Church Lane, through a small spinney into the Vicarage grounds, our way lit by a candle in a lantern.
On arrival to the Vicarage my first job was to pump water from the well to fill the tank. The range would be lit and when hot enough I would take a long fork and make the toast for the Vicar's breakfast. Mother and I would then go to the dining room, kneel down and join the Vicar for prayers after which I had my own breakfast and then school. We didn't leave the Vicarage until after the evening meal.
Mother's health was not very good and Mrs Gee I believe was largely responsible for persuading her to allow my brother Stanley to go to Dr. Barnardo's Home which caused us considerable anguish. When he was 12 or 13 he came home for 2 or 3 weeks summer holiday and Barnardo's made the shock announcement that on his return to London they would be sending him to Australia. Mother refused to send him back in spite of threats of legal action. Stanley returned briefly to St John's School,
I believe. It is difficult to remember exact dates of 70 odd years ago.
Highlights and Dramas:
Society Wedding - A member of the Carter family from Grimsdyke House was married at St John's Church. The whole village was 'En Fete' and the school closed for the day. Many of the young girls formed a guard of honour as the bridal couple left the church. Each girl had a light dress and carried a basket of rose petals with which to shower the bride and groom. Marquees were set up in the field below Grimsdyke, the band played and refreshments and entertainment provided for the whole village. The revelry continued until the evening.
Severe winter - One winter the snow fall was so great that it filled the roads to the top of the hedgerows and the village was cut off for a week or so before the roads became passable again. We children had great fun walking on top of the hedges.
Firework damage - One Guy Fawkes Night a great friend of mine, Charlie Claydon, was foolishly holding a lighted Thunder Flash in his hand. The explosion damaged his hand and blinded one eye.
Boy's lower leg amputated - Henry Arthur son of Carter's groom, got too close to a farm machine cutting hay. The long blade severed his leg below the knee. He was later fitted with a wooden stump which seemed to do little to impede his mobility.
Epidemics - Seasonal outbreaks of measles, whooping cough, chicken pox, etc were common. Medication was limited and antibiotics hadn't been invented.
Departure - When the Reverend Gee left Lacey Green my family moved with him to Olney, North Bucks for 2 years or so. We then returned to our cottage in Church Lane. By this time Head mistress Grey had retired and succeeded by Mr Aldridge.
At the age of 12 my mother remarried and we left Lacey Green for Naphill. As I only had a further 18 months to go before leaving school I obtained permission to continue at St John's School and I cycled to and from Naphill every day until I left at the age of 14 years.
On leaving school, practically the only employment other than agricultural was in the furniture factories at High Wycombe. I started at Ellis's to learn French Polishing. Work 7.30am- 4.30pm every day. Wage 10 shillings (50p) per week.
I was made redundant at the age of 16 so I left home and moved to London. Most wealthy people had many servants particularly in Mayfair and Belgravia. The large houses often employed 20-30 staff. The hours were long and the pay poor, but board and lodging, laundry and uniform were provided and one could live well. In addition to this my salary was £28 per year. About 1935 I joined the household of Sir Arthur Penn a descendant of William Penn (who colonised Pennsylvania USA) as footman and valet.
Sir Arthur Penn was a great friend of the Duke and Duchess of York (later to become King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (after the abdication of Edward VIII). After their Coronation, Sir Arthur became Equerry to the King and throughout the War years Private Secretary to the Queen (the late Queen Mother). He was also Adjutant to the Grenadier Guards. He had been much decorated in the First World War.
Many of the leading politicians of the day and the inner circle of Palace Courtiers were frequent visitors to the house near Belgrave Square. Before a Palace function some of the guests would come to dinner in their designer long gowns, diamond tiaras and with white ostrich plumes in their hair. The men would be resplendent in their uniforms with medals and Orders and ceremonial swords. The Palace would sometimes send carriages to the house complete with postilion riders behind, to collect the guests and take them on to the Palace. Among the most frequent guests were the Ladies in Waiting, the Duchess of Devonshire (Mistress of the Queen's Robes) Harold Macmillan and his wife, Lady Dorothy, The Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, Lady Astor, Lord Halifax (Foreign Secretary and former Ambassador to Russia), Lord and Lady Hamilton, etc. On the 80th birthday of Sir Arthur, the Queen came to tea, plus 200 guests throughout the afternoon.
On another occasion during the summer of 1938, the Hertfordshire residence of the Countess of Strathmore (Mother of the Queen Mother), had been leased to Sir Arthur for the summer. The London house was closed and the entire family and staff moved to the country - a welcome break from the London season.
On return to London, before we had unpacked the silver etc during the late afternoon, the telephone rang. I answered it and a voice said 'This is Buckingham Palace, the King will be coming to tea accompanied by 8 gentlemen friends'. Tea was a frantic scramble but somehow accomplished smoothly.
1939 Outbreak of World War II
In January 1940 I joined the Army (RAMC) and was posted to Guildford to an evacuated private boys' school. Facilities were abysmal. A sack of straw on the floor for a bed, no seats or tables so meals were taken standing up. It was a severe winter and we had to break the ice to wash and shave. Dunkirk was in progress and we were drafted to St Luke's Hospital. Train loads of casualties were carried by stretchers to the hospital. Many were terribly burnt and covered in oil after long exposure on the beaches and were wrapped in brown paper sheets. The operating theatre worked round the clock for days. As well as our own troops many of the casualties were Indian, French and Polish.
I was frequently posted to other Units one of which was to the Plastic Surgery Unit at East Grinstead. Many of our Fighter Pilots who had been shot down in flames were patients with horrific burns. Ears and eye lids destroyed which would require years of plastic surgery operations. It was noted that burns victims shot down in the sea for long periods healed better with less skin construction. This lead to the inception of the 'Continuous Saline Bath' treatment. The patients, mostly RAF were immersed in a warm bath of normal saline, temperature thermostatically controlled for periods of up to 24 hours. Mr McIndoe was the eminent Plastic Surgeon whose pioneering work transformed the lives of many casualties and continued long after the war.
1943 - I injured my left knee during training requiring surgery and removal of my knee cap. This resulted in 12 months in hospital and convalescent homes. At the end of this I was posted to No 10 Hospital, Gibraltar via 3 weeks in a troop ship. After 2 or 3 weeks deep inside the Rock I and 40 others were seconded to the Colonial Hospital, a civilian establishment. All women and children had been evacuated to England and elsewhere. The Spanish Civil War had just ended and 20,000 Spaniards streamed across the frontier every day to work in the dock yards, garrison messes, hospitals, etc. They all had to be back in Spain by dusk.
I worked in Theatre and Outpatients, did all the sterilising and autoclaving, assisted at operations and helped with the various clinics. Out patients were Gibraltar Police Force, Merchant sailors and many Spaniards.
After two and a half years' there the war ended. I was demobbed and returned to England after 3 weeks on a Troop ship. I was summoned to Buckingham Palace to discuss my future by Sir Arthur Penn who offered me a post in his establishment. I realised that the war had destroyed the old social order so I declined. I wanted to make nursing my career.
1946 - Did my General Training at Lewisham Hospital London, obtaining my SRN after 3 years, then did 1 year as Staff Nurse.
1949 - Decided to train for my Psychiatric Certificate and trained at Maudsley and Royal Bethlem hospitals for a further 2 years. The Maudsley was the foremost teaching hospital in the country, high powered and teaching in all departments. With only about 250 patients there were over 200 Doctors, all qualified in General Medicine and studying for the Diploma in Psychiatric Medicine (DPM). The Royal Bethlem's history goes back almost 700 years to the times of the Crusaders and before Nationalisation owned vast tracts of land in Central London including Trafalgar Square and the Kent Coalfield.
1952 - Obtained my RMN and 3 or 4 months later, successfully applied for the post of Charge Nurse. This I held for about 3 years.
1955 - Coerced by Dame Katherine Watt to go to a Mission Hospital in the Lebanon situated on the Damascus Road on a plateau above the capital Beirut, as a Charge Nurse. The Mission Hospital was founded early in the century by a Swiss Quaker and funded by International charities. The grounds were extensive with spectacular views. Our 600 patients were drawn from the whole of the Middle East, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the odd European. Our student nurses were recruited from the Lebanon plus a large number of Palestinians from the refugee camps of which there were several. Their training was modelled on the English General Nursing Council's syllabus and on completion many of the nurses found lucrative posts in the hospitals of the Gulf States, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. I was later promoted to Assistant Matron.
The Civil War of the late 1950's made life very difficult, with almost daily curfew, vehicles set on fire, bombs going off and our water and electricity cut off. Looking after 800 or so people presented many major problems. We expatriate staff were told a British War ship was standing by to evacuate us if conditions worsened. We were told' No heroics and take only personal papers'.
After 7 years I finished my third contract and returned to England in January 1962. I was appointed Assistant Matron (later named Nursing Officer) to a London Hospital in East Dulwich, part of the Kings College Hospital Group and stayed there for 19 years until my retirement at the end of 1981 aged 64.
3 years ago I moved from London to the Aylesbury area where I now live. I had had no contact with Lacey Green since about 1933 and heard of your Millennium Reunion from my sister-in-law who lives in Risborough.
My nephew brought me to the school on the Friday evening. I was surprised to see the extensive light and airy class rooms behind the old school which looked progressive and modern. I was particularly interested in the old photographs especially the group photos but have no recollection of them being taken. Unfortunately many of them were placed too low on the display boards to be seen (unable to bend down). However I have ordered copies of 2 which will represent the only photograph of my childhood.
It was striking to compare the dress and appearance of the present children with those of the 20's and 30's. I wonder if they realise how fortunate they are. Their futures will be shaped very differently to ours, with the explosion of new information technology, the Internet, mobile phones and personal computers, the unravelling of DNA and exploration of space, they will have career opportunities undreamt of by my generation.
In conclusion at 82 years and 7 months I have rambled on wondering if this little effort will be of any interest. I hope the pupils of St John's School make full use of their educational facilities to equip themselves for the competitive work place of the future.
1958, hearing that a plot of land with the foundations of a bungalow already on it had been bought by Dell Bros builders in Kiln Lane, Lacey Green, John and Joyce Delnevo came to look at the site. It was snowing as their Vespa scooter struggled up from Wycombe. Nothing daunted they purchased the site and Dell Bros built their bungalow.
John had a printing business in Wycombe and the Vespa struggled with the steep hills.
In 1961 their daughter, Louise was born and they managed to get a car.
Kiln Lane was a very quiet road. Not many houses. A semi detached flint and brick pair at the top of the lane, a pair of farm workers houses further down on the other side built in 1937 next to `Malmesmead`one of the oldest houses in the village. There was a simple bungalow next door to the plot and a couple of bungalows right at the bottom and a house even further on.
The pair at the top of the lane were lived in by Mr and Mrs Toms and Mr and Mrs Williams and son Edwin. It was these two women that welcomed Joyce. Mrs Williams introduced her to the Womens` Institute with which she soon became involved. Mrs Toms had a large cottage garden from which she would gather a huge bunch for anyone who needed flowers. How much? Half a crown (12.5p). Their friendships would be for life.
Baby Louise was sixteen when Mrs Toms died, but she remembered her in her Will with a £100 bequest for being the first baby girl born in Kiln Lane for fifty years.
The village shop, with Bert and May Dell was the place to meet other villagers. Usually there would be someone in there with news to tell and if you had the time simply going for a loaf of bread could take absolutely ages.
I had arrived home to Speen after 4 years in the Derbyshire Coal Fields, an indoctrinated socialist married to Jean with a baby, to the only home, a caravan, and later a one up and one down cottage.
Between Lacey Green and Speen there had traditionally been animosity and general unfriendliness and strong sporting rivalry, but when we were allocated a new council house any such thoughts were quickly dispelled with the thought of a new home.
Jean met Mrs. Gurney and Miss Jarvis to book our daughter into the school, and we soon discovered that as far back as 1951 Lacey Green was a very good school.
On her many visits back and forward she found the villagers welcoming and friendly, particularly Mr. Sid Janes (no relation) the baker, Mr. Lewis the retired paper man who had delivered the papers with a pony and trap. Mrs Chiltern the post lady, Bert at Hickman's stores, Mrs. Lacey at the little shop at the Crooked Chimney opposite Bitfield (now Westlands), Mr and Mrs Lawrence at their Loosley Row shop later to become the post office, to name but a few.
I was playing cricket for Speen but resigned and joined Lacey Green, playing in both first and second eleven teams, thinking "if you want to be accepted then you have to accept the village" But when both teams played one another you could easily imagine what prompted "The War of the Roses"
Some Early Memories
From the age of twelve until I left school, one of my jobs was known as the "Medicine Run". I had to miss a bit of school to carry out this job.
Every Thursday evening, after school, I would travel to some of the outlying districts of the village to collect empty medicine bottles. Some of the homes I visited were the Hickman family at Turnip End, Mr Redrup, a cripple, living at the bottom of Lacey Green, and two families in Portobello Row.
I had permission from the school to take time off on Friday mornings to catch the "Farmer's" bus, which ran from the Church end of Lacey Green to Princes Risborough, where I went to Dr Edward's surgery (Old Cross Keys). He always looked out for me, and took me straight in to fill the medicine bottles, as he knew I had to get the return bus back to school. Then on Friday evenings or Saturday mornings, I would have to go round to deliver the medicines to all the families concerned.
One day at the doctors, when I was collecting the medicine, I peeped through the curtains. It appeared to me that he took some grey powder, mixed it up with some water, and poured it into all the bottles. I thought it odd at the time, that they all had the same medicine!
I did this job until I left school. On the last morning, I said to the doctor, " This is my last run, as I am leaving school". He gave me half a crown (now equal to twelve and a half pence). A few years later, when I was taking a group of children to Sunday School, he came by in his car. He got out, wanted to know how I was, shook my hand and wished me well.
The Hickman family from Turnip End lived about 500 yards down a woody stony lane. The house had no electricity or gas. In the winter of 1947 I was detailed to go and sleep there. It was so cold that it froze the hot water bottle. I always had to get up very early to break the ice and feed the chickens and rabbits, before running home for breakfast and then on to school.
Mr Redrup, who lived at the bottom of the village was to me a little old man, bent double, who used two walking sticks. He used to tell me stories of the First World War, when he was detailed to go and find German snipers. He said how difficult it was to hit a man a mile away. I found him very interesting, as he had a number 3 garden gun, which he let me use to take pot shots. He also had a lovely apple tree in the corner of his garden, where the school is now. A lot of boys went scrumping there.
My grandparents lived in Portobello Row, near cottage number 4, where I used to deliver medicine. A few years later, when I was 20, I was also sent there to sleep. My grandmother was very ill, and if needed, I could run to the public telephone. The back room of that cottage was another place where my hot water bottle froze.
I enjoyed my schooldays during the war. Another job which some of us boys had was to go potato picking for any farmer who wanted us. We had a permit from the school for this. We were allowed 20 half days per year off. The only farmer brave enough to employ us was Mr Reg Tilbury, who lived at Parslows Hillock (down the lane from the Pink and Lily) We boys would cycle from Lacey Green to the farm, and had a very enjoyable afternoon away from school.
Another job, which I was landed with during school holidays in wartime, was to cycle to Hampden Woods, where the chair bodgers had turned thousands of chair legs over the years. My oldest brother and I would have to work one end of a cross cut saw, while a man was at the other end. This was hard work, which I did not enjoy very much. My brother, being older and stronger than me, was allowed to hold the handle of the saw, while I was a yard away, pulling on the end of a rope. 02.03.10
My father, Reg Tilbury, was born in 1898, and lived down Lily Bottom Lane on the right. The land here is owned by the Princes Risborough Charities, and is known as Parish Poor's Land. It was given to the parish by the Marquis of Ely to allow people in Lacey Green to rent a one acre strip or plot on which to grow food for themselves, or cereals to feed to pigs or chickens.
The rents were collected at Michaelmas, and distributed to the poor of the parish who had children, especially widows with children. Each home would be given one cwt. (hundredweight) of coal to keep them warm over Christmas.
As a boy, Reg spent most of his summer holidays stone picking on that land. He was paid one pence per basket. The stones were emptied at the end of the field, and later loaded onto a horse and cart and taken to Cuddington for road building.
The money he earned was just enough to pay for a pair of new boots, which would have to last him a whole year, until the next summer. His father would walk him to a cobbler, who lived at Spring Coppice Lane in Speen on a Saturday night. To obtain the correct fit, he would stand on a piece of leather, and the cobbler would draw around his foot with a pencil, making an allowance for growth. They would return the next Saturday night to collect the new boots. 02.03.10
In September 1961 I married John West, who had been born and now worked with his father at Stocken farm in Lacey Green. We moved into no.1 Coronation Cottages, one of a pair of houses in Kiln Lane built for the farm workers by the landlord in 1937 - hence the name. I've no doubt it was modern for it's day. For instance, it had a bathroom. Mains water had only come to the village in 1934. There was a sink in the kitchen and a cesspool in the garden to take the waste. The main drains were not laid in the village until about 1970, so every house had to call in the cesspool emptying lorry from time to time.
In the front door, stairs up straight ahead, beside a short passage through to the kitchen and on the right a small sitting room and a living room. The kitchen was not big. Narrow with, on one side, a copper boiler to heat the water which had a fire underneath. Next, a sink and wooden draining board and an electric cooker. There was a cupboard under the sink and that was it.
Cooking must have been prepared in the living room, for there was a walk-in larder in there and room for a small table and chairs. A fireplace with a built in cupboard floor to ceiling beside it and room for some easy chairs. The bathroom and three bedrooms upstairs. The paintwork had not been changed much since it was built. All the woodwork was still the original, then fashionable, matt brown. The green painted walls had been livened up in places with a pink potato-cut pattern, or was it the other way round? Anyway we papered over it.
We took out the old fireplace in the living room and replaced it with a new one with a back-boiler to heat the water. This let us knock out the big copper boiler with its fire from the kitchen. We had been given a dated washing machine which just fitted in the space and put a worktop over it joining up with a new stainless steel sink and drainer and an up to date electric cooker. It was like a mini galley. There was no garage but that didn't matter because we didn't have a car.
I had worked full time in my father's business. Now I was a full time housewife and I had a lot to learn. John started work at 6am and came back at 8am for twenty minutes for a cooked breakfast. The main meal was at 12 o'clock when the farm stopped for lunch for an hour. Five o'clock brought John home for a quick, full, old-fashioned tea, or if anyone was working in the fields a picnic tea was taken to them. Supper, usually something hot, was eaten around 9pm. This gave me plenty of opportunity to practice my culinary skills which were very basic at first but increased rapidly - they needed to. I enjoyed needlework and changed from dressmaking to curtains and upholstery.
All that cooking needed ingredients but getting them was not difficult. The fish-man, Mr. Harper called on Tuesdays, so fish and chips was supper on Tuesdays. A butcher called twice a week from Stevens in Prestwood. I can't remember the man's name but he was very saucy. I had the time to cook the cheaper cuts that needed long slow cooking but asking him for a piece of skirt or a breast of lamb took a lot of bravery. Then there were Bert and May Dell at Hickman's Stores. They stocked all I needed and I collected my bread from them four times a week. They also sold petrol and paraffin which we needed for a convector heater that we stood in our hall in the winter. " Bert's" was a wonderful place to get to know people. At first it seemed that everyone in there knew everybody else. And they probably did. But Bert and May always had a word for everyone and all were included. They were first class village shopkeepers to my mind and a great help to me in feeling at home here.
The farm was just behind our house across the field. The cows were taken past the side of our garden into Kiln Lane, down as far as the cross tracks and left into a field, called Hillocks, to graze. Then they were brought back again at milking time. That was a daily occurrence, but less often cattle and the flock of sheep were driven around the village or along to Walters Ash on the New Road. There was not so much traffic then.
It was not unusual for the village to be cut off with snow in the winter. Gerald Bedford who worked at the farm lived in Naphill. He would go home on a tractor and in the morning clear stuck cars from the New Road on his way back. The snow would blow against the fences and hedges and drop the other side blocking the roads. Then the council took to erecting snow barriers some way in the fields so the snow dropped over them and thus it piled up in the fields. Side roads such as Slad Lane however could be filled to the top. It is already some years ago that the council no longer deemed it necessary to put up those snow barriers.
The bus from Wycombe only ever came as far as the RAF camp at Walters Ash. That was the Lacey Green stop. In snowy weather a snow plough cleared to there, turning and throwing a bank of extra snow across New Road just to make sure we were inaccessible.
The village was pretty self sufficient. The Stores, of course, and along at Loosley Row opposite the Whip was the Post Office. The district nurse, who delivered the babies, lived in Greenlands and a doctor held a weekly surgery in Bill and Phyllis Dell's house. The policeman lived in a house on the Main Road. There was a road sweeper, "Wido" Bowler, to keep it nice, scything the grass verges as well. If he got a little weary he would sit in his barrow and take a nap.
In 1961 Joyce Delnevo was just getting her baby Louise to walk to the village shop. Our daughters and Louise became good friends. Joyce was a great help to me and someone I could always turn to.
Many village schools were being closed down at that time but Lacey Green was chosen to stay. If it had closed Lacey green would be a very different place. As it was, our children made close friendships there and I met many more people.
In 1969 our son Richard was born. John's mother was not in good health and they built a bungalow for her and Dick. In January 1970 we moved to the farmhouse. I couldn't have had a better start in Lacey Green.
Members of the History Group can remember what the villages were like and how the land was used in the 1950s, when they were at school..
There were far less houses. Most of them were cottages with a reasonable sized garden, where vegetables could be grown. Some people kept a few chickens, but the Victorian practice of keeping a pig at the end of the garden had ceased. Most of the cottages were still occupied by village families.
There were also a few larger houses with wealthy incomers, who employed a gardener, e.g. Lane Farm was occupied by the Wathens, and later the Abel Smiths and the Jordans, owners of Parker Knoll, lived at Gracefield. Rumer Godden, the novelist, was living in White House Farm, but it was no longer farmed.
A few, mainly spinster ladies, had lovely flower gardens. Miss Fagge lived at Bullabura (now Apple Acre) around Slad Lane, Miss Fletcher at Vine Cottage, and the Miss Samsons at Malsmead in Kiln Lane.
There were still a number of farms, the largest of which was Stocken Farm, owned by Dick West. The Batemans were at Grimsdyke, and their farm manager was Charlie Green, the Inns were at Promised Land, the Hawes at Woodbine Farm, and Harry Floyd at Floyds Farm. Windmill Farm belonged to the Smiths, and Kingswood Farm to Alan Armitage. Collins Farm (which belonged to the Garners) and College Farms were in Loosley Row. Along Pink Road was Widmer Farm, and there were three small farms at Parslows Hillock, Lillybottom Farm, Lillybank Farm, and one run by the Tilbury family. These were all general farms where a variety of animals and arable were cultivated. Only the odd person could afford to keep a pony for their children, and there were still a few working horses.
The Turneys had a smallholding on the Parish Poors land on Pink Road.
The Olivers also had a smallholding - Tor Cottage (now Trillium) in Church Lane; They had previously farmed Sunny Bank Farm, which has been renamed White House Farm. They had mainly chickens.
There were allotments at the bottom of the Bitfield (now Westlands). In earlier years there had been a number of orchards in the village, growing mainly apples and cherries. Some of these remained, at Sunny Bank and Hetts Loo (now Hetts Orchard), at Woodfield and at the Andersons Farm at Darvills Hill.
The only place for outdoor recreation was the Sports Field, which was also used for fetes and other festivities like the Coronation in 1953. Indoor entertainments were in the Village Hall or the Methodist Chapel room. There was no play ground. Children played in the fields and footpaths, and in the woods at Smalldean and Hampden.
There were no longer any woods in the villages. These had been cleared for chairmaking by the end of the 19th Century..
Thames Valley buses had just started running into the village, but already a number of people had cars, and this was leading to the decline of the small shops.
New houses were being built. There was a row of houses opposite Stocken Farm, on land which had been made into allotments during the First World War. The factory had replaced the tennis court built by the Rev. Robson between Main Road and Church Lane (now Hambye Close). The council houses (now known as Greenlands) were built. The windmill was no longer used, and was falling down. There was still a teacher's house and a policeman's house. There were caravans on some scrub land to the right of the crossroads on Kiln Lane.
Mains water and electricity had arrived, allowing farmers to keep animals, and their manure was being used to improve the fields. The clay soil was also broken down by burning, and stubble fields were often burned - a practice which is illegal now. There were still a few ponds in the village, but most of these have now gone. The area was not suitable for large arable production, and so most of the hedges were spared, although many were destroyed in other parts of the country.
Women mostly stayed at home looking after their families, and some foodstuffs were still rationed, so there was an emphasis on preserving all that could be gleaned from the fields and hedgerows like blackberries, mushrooms and rose hips. Home made wines were made from dandelions, elderberries, a and even cowslips. Rabbits, pigeons and nuts were eaten. There were a great deal more semi wild places. Pesticides and herbicides were not widely used.
Looking back, it seems an idyllic life for us as children, but things were beginning to change. There were no jobs for youngsters leaving school, and they had to leave their homes to make a living. The villages were soon to become pretty places mainly inhabited by commuters.
Phyllis was born in 1944 and she spent all her childhood with her parents at "Homefield", Westlands Road. During the war, as with everyone else's, their home was very full. She had two brothers, but besides the family a woman with two children from London, whose home had been bombed, lived in the upstairs bedroom. With no home to go to they stayed on after the war had ended.
Sleeping in the scullery were two Irish navvies who were working at Bomber Command.
Causing Mrs.Janes the most problem were three Land Army Girls. They had the downstairs room. They also, stayed on for some years after the war ended. Once a week it was Phyllis's job to work the pump in the scullery so the girls could wash their hair under the running water. They were not supposed to have men in their room, but they used to push up the sash window to "talk" to the local lads who came up to their window. Phyllis remembers her mother banging on their door asking what was going on in there.
Maurice ("Mosh") Sauders had been born and lived in Lacey Green but Trudy came from Wolverhampton.
On D Day plus two, Mosh had been injured and brought back to England where he was taken to a hospital outside Wolverhampton.
Trudy was one of the girls doing "war work". She was involved with fixing tappits for Merlin engines, also oil seals in crankshafts and gearbox work for tank engines. The girls were encouraged to make up baskets of food, fruit or even just a cigarette to take to the men at the hospital. Next a room was set aside where they could have family visitors and a rota was established for the girls to serve coffee for them. And it was there Mosh got to know Trudy.
One day he wasn`t there, he had been transferred to Stoke Mandeville. Trudy got a letter and they kept in touch until Mosh was better and at the end of 1944 he brought her to Lacey Green.
After the war the "war workers" had to either go into factories or on the buses. Mosh`s twin sister Millicent worked for Marconi in Sands and got a job for Trudy there, but she was obliged to be a conductress, taking the money on the buses in Wycombe because that had been her choice before she left Wolverhampton. She hated it. She lived in digs down Loudwater, High Wycombe near the then bus station.
Mosh`s father was William John Saunders.(see Saunders and Son) a builder. In 1935 he had built a house called Chorlton along Mill Road, now Main Road towards The Whip. Mosh joined the business and a little bungalow was built in the garden of Chorlton, and Mosh and Trudy got married and moved in.
Trudy had been welcomed into a truly sociable, very musical local family, so she was quickly feeling at home. She found Millicent a great friend although she had now married Bob Martin, son of the Speen baker.
Bob had been demobbed before Mosh and was back from South Africa where he had been doing training in the R.A.F. Bob joined his father at the bakery. Bob was a quiet man but Millicent made up for him. Not only was she most attractive but had a really bubbly personality. All the men seemed to fancy Millicent and the women couldn`t help liking her too. But she was truly Bob`s woman and when he died of cancer in his fifties she only lived a few months more herself despite her many friends trying to help her.
In 1947 Trudy and Mosh had a daughter, Kay. They were now very short of room and looked for somewhere to build. No land came available but in 1951 the council built the houses in Greenlands and they moved into one of them. It was a few years before they were able to buy a site heaped with rubble where an old cottage had been knocked down. Of course Mosh was a builder but Trudy recalls barrowing many loads of stones to clear the site and build the back up level, and helping to lay floorboards. They called the house "Dry Hillocks".
I was a Londoner, born in 1923. In 1940 my home was bombed and my mother killed and I finished up in hospital with several minor injuries I was in a state of shock having lost both my home and my mother and my father suggested I visit my sister, Gladys for a week or two.
She had worked for Carters Merchants Ltd in the City of London, an import and export company. The Carter family had bought Grymsdyke House in 1922. They also owned the indoor tennis court built by ex Vicar William Robson in Church Lane. Mr Carter, the chairman of the company decided to transfer the business to Lacey Green for the duration of the war. He converted the indoor tennis court in Church Lane into staff accommodation and offices, dormitories either end for single men and single women, and offices in the middle, also a kitchen and dining room. It was the end of the building's prestigious life as a tennis court. Phyllis Adams also worked there and when I came to visit my sister accommodation was found for me with Phyllis's parents, Fred and Minnie Adams, who was a very friendly person and made me very welcome. I stayed there several weeks. At this time it was difficult for companies to get staff and I was offered a job with Carters. I decided to accept it never thinking that I would still be in Bucks 70 years later.
As you can imagine the tennis court had a very high roof. The source of heat was mainly electric and paraffin oil heaters so most of that rose and went out through the roof. A false ceiling was eventually put in and things improved a great deal. As time went on the married couples rented houses in the village or rooms in people's houses and the rest of us shared a cottage at the end of the drive. Every room was a bedroom and we still had our food cooked in the tennis court kitchen. Being the junior I was allocated the last room left which was originally a walk-in pantry, just room for a camp bed and it was quite damp. One of the older girls left soon after and I was able to share a room with my sister.
We joined in village activities whenever we could. Mrs.Lou Dell, mother of Bill, Jack and Bert, and her helpers organised a dance once a month in the village hall to raise money for the troops, Christmas parcels etc. Of course the girls went along and there I met Stan Rixon (known as Baldwin), my future husband. Public transport was in short supply, really non existent on a Saturday night, so we had to walk to wherever the entertainment was - Hampden, Princes Risborough, to name a few. Mr Farmer from Monks Risborough had the local bus service into High Wycombe, calling at Lacey Green, Hampden, Bryants Bottom, etc. He only had the one bus so the service was not very frequent, 2 or 3 trips a day and during the winter the last bus did not run at all. Very few people had cars and those that did were rationed for petrol. The village people used to cycle to Wycombe to work all weathers and must have kept them very fit. There wasn't a bus route from Lacey Green to Aylesbury at that time.
We did not find it difficult to fit in with the local people. All those I came in contact with were very friendly. It took me a time to get used to saying "hello" to everyone you met. The only people you acknowledged in London were people you knew. To speak to a stranger was a "no-no", especially if it were dark and a man to boot.
Stan Rixon lived with his parents Clara and Fred at No.4 Portobello Cottages. His brother Gerald was the father of Les Rixon and his sister Doris the mother of Gordon May. His father, Fred was a chair bodger. The chair legs and spindles were taken to Wycombe to a devout Methodist who got Stan a job with Allen Hanes. He hated it and so took evening classes until he could take a job with Leather and Stevenson, Princes Risborough solicitors in the Market square. One of the things he did was the legal work for the new cinema there where he also helped as a projectionist in his spare time. Stan and I married and shared a house with Ted and Ann Saunders in Princes Risborough for a time. It was easier for Stan to get to work from there to Aylesbury. Eventually we were lucky enough to get a house at Risborough in 1951 and there we stayed.
Once the boys were all de-mobbed the sports club got into full swing. They were all so dedicated and most of them hardly missed a game all season. Even our holiday had to start on a Sunday and we were up at the crack of dawn the following Saturday in order to be home in time for cricket at 2pm.
I have never regretted moving to Lacey Green. I think it one of the best things that ever happened to me. My in-laws were the best possible people to me and always welcomed any member of my family. They helped me through a very bad time when I first came to Lacey Green. I was so lucky. (May 2010)
by Joan West in conversation with Dick and Hilda West.
Richard West (Dick) was a farmer's son from West Wycombe on the Oxford Road.
Hilda Crook was the daughter of Frederick Crook who had retired to Wheeler End because of ill health - Wheeler End being at the top of the hill above the Oxford Road - what better place to meet but at the blacksmiths. By 1934, aged 23 they decided to marry and sought a farm to rent for themselves.
At Stocken Farm in Lacey Green, William Saunders died. (See William Saunders) and the farm together with the field, Hillocks, was sold. It was bought by his son-in-law Ernest Smith, married to William's daughter Daisy, for £3,225. Ernest was running J. Smith and Sons, Road Contractors, so he put the farm up for rent.
The country was in deep depression, land was being abandoned. Few applied and those who did had to have guarantors to pay the rent if things did not work out. Hilda's stepmother stepped in to guarantee the rent and a contract was signed. It was traditional to take a farm at Michaelmas, the 29th September. This they did. But Hilda's stepmother believed in astrology and insisted they waited until into October to get married, when the stars would be more auspicious. Then they could move into the farmhouse.
The house was overrun with black beetles and probably other creatures, for it had been empty for a while. A considerable amount was done by the landlord to get the place in order. A bathroom was installed with the new mains water supply. Outside it was engulfed in massive laurel and there were great trees right up near the house. These were later cleared, but had already caused subsidence, for the old house had no foundations.
Dick and Hilda had their farm and little by little by sheer hard work they got on their feet. Dick was a careful man, certainly not a gambler, yet taking Stocken Farm when people were leaving the land wholesale was an unimaginable gamble. But of course Hilda and Dick were totally committed to their life together.
William George Luxford, (George) was the nephew of Mrs.Rixon who lived at Redland End. He left his parents and younger siblings in Cranleigh, Surrey and came to lodge with his aunt, hopeful of finding work.
Did he find Redland End a bit out of the local activities? Whatever the reason, after a year or so he moved into lodgings with Leonard and Annie Janes in Portobello Cottages just opposite the shop. They made him feel at home treating him like a son. He also met Gladys Ing (grand-daughter of William Saunders)and they were married at Lacey Green on Christmas Eve 1930.
Until 1955 George and Gladys lived in "Windyridge" a cottage belonging to Harry Floyd, William Saunders grandson. Then George built a house "Cranleigh" next door. Their two sons Alan and Bernard lived in the cottage all their childhood. George, Gladys and the boys would visit Leonard and Annie Janes where they were always made most welcome. Out would come the cakes and biscuits as if they were their own family.
Alan met and married Pam Stallwood, from High Wycombe, and in 1956 they built a bungalow in the orchard of Cranleigh the other side from their childhood home. "Windyridge" was pulled down in 1972 but between that and "Cranleigh" where his parents lived Alan has built his own house "Westwinds"
My brother and I joined the Scouts in 1941. The first thing I remember vividly was at the Scout hut which, at the time, was the Rev. Stewart's garage. (This was not being used as no-one had a car.) Your attention was immediately drawn to a painting on the chimney-breast which was of a head and shoulders of a Boy Scout complete with hat, woggle and neckerchief.
I found out later that the outline drawing was done by my late uncle, Mr Stanley Rixon, and the painting was done by a Mr Maurice Saunders, known to all as Mosh. Both these Scouts had moved on to service for their King and country. I have been back to that garage and the painting has been whitewashed over.
The Scout troop consisted of two patrols. I was in the Woodpeckers and the other was the Hawks. Scouting activity was treated quite seriously, with cooking, learning how to tie knots and map-reading, so that different boys could earn different badges. Many friendly war-like games were played, one patrol against the other. I was told in later years by two of the boys who were at the siege of Kohima that their tracking and scrumping in the Scouts came in very handy when they had to crawl into the Jap lines at night to get water.
The dark evenings always had plenty of fun and amusement. One evening the Hawks patrol was sent out to defend the cricket meadow. The Woodpeckers promptly disturbed a courting couple in a close clinch at the start when some of the Scouts rushed the old white cricket pavilion and some at the back disturbed the couple who were laid on the ground.
Another incident took place on what is now the main road when Scouts were told to look out for a person heavily disguised and probably limping and to "capture" him. The person happened to be old Mr John Saunders, limping his way down to the Crown pub for a pint. He had a few harsh words, wielding his walking stick and the boys retreated post haste.
A sad affair concerned an old lady with a wizened face and no teeth who always wore a beret and collected wood which she carried home on her back - one Mrs Rose Bowler. We had organised a game in the green meadow (now the new road passes through the middle of it) where she was wooding. She told us she had lost her brooch and we were on our hands and knees in line like a police force searching for it but sadly never found it.
Another activity took place at Turnip End. I personally had the experience of being pushed into the pond and another Scout came along and pushed the one who had pushed me in too - we both got out laughing.
Other activities included cross-country running and a large gathering of patrols met one Saturday afternoon for a cross-country challenge. I was called at only three days notice to replace someone who had dropped out and I think I came in 47th out of 50.
Another memory was attending a rather large jamboree at a park in Oxford where the Chief Scout, Lord Rowallan was present.
One incident took place with an amusing side. We went on an August Bank Holiday weekend camp in 1944 at Waterstock-cum-Ickford. We caught the train from Princes Risborough to Tiddington and had a long walk carrying our kitbags to camp near the River Thame.
It was at the time when the doodle-bugs were falling in the area. One of the farmer's cows got upset and got stuck in the river. The farmer came to the camp to ask for volunteers to help pull the cow out of the river. The bigger boys went to help and some of us were left to cook Sunday lunch. In the activities that followed the billy-cans got knocked over and only some of the food was saved. This was given to the Scout leaders. We never did tell them that most of us went without Sunday lunch.
Another area of great interest to the Scouts was a field leading from Lacey Green to Turnip End containing Nanny Cooper's pond. The pond itself was of great interest to the boys as they climbed along the branches over the water and some took great delight in falling into the pond. Sadly we lost the pond when the airfield came - the trees were cut down and the pond was filled in.
Charles Ede left Lacey Green, after passing the Labour exam, aged 14, in 1909. The usual age at that time. In his autobiography he tells of his time here from about 1900.
At The Pub
The Ede family moved to Lacey Green when his father took a position as chauffeur for a Mr Anderson of Parslows Hillock. As the cottage was not ready they were put up at the Pink and Lily pub, for about ten days, then moved to a cottage a little way down the road.
"The landlady appeared the boss. She was fat and happy and had previously been a cook in some posh place. It seemed to please my mother, as she was likewise. The landlord was a retired butler from the same house. He appeared very obedient."
"When the tap room was cleaned up ready for business the tables were scrubbed very clean, sawdust on the floor, not forgetting the spittoons on the floor. These were cleaned with grate polish. It seemed to me most men in the country smoked clay pipes, and spitting was part of the act. An expert could shoot across the room and get a 'bullseye'; but beer being better than it is today caused plenty of misses, so it was the landlords' job to clean them up."
"Now my father wanted to find a church to go to. He also wanted me to see the school that I was to go to. He had heard they were nearby. Father and I walked a mile, when we turned left and commenced to go down the village of Lacey Green. The first thing I remember about it was the stink; I think everyone must have kept a pig and some not far from the road. People stared at us, similar to pictures I have seen of artist's impressions of natives looking at Captain Cook as he stepped ashore in New Zealand."
Old Tin Ribs
"A single bell rang - it sounded like one that sheep have round their necks. We got to the church and the service began. Certainly a nice organ and expert player, but when the long thin parson began to speak, his voice was so cracked we could hardly understand him. It was said he had been thrown off a tram that had tipped over. My father was most particular when speaking of him or any other parson. It was always 'His Reverent'. I preferred 'old tin ribs' as we named him".
Bread And Dripping
"Well I started School. It was 1 ¾ miles from home so of course I had to take my dinner. It was generally bread and dripping. I used to like that, it is not so good now. I had companions living near and like all children, soon became friends. I soon settled at school and people seemed very friendly".
"I was very interested to go into the woods where the bodgers worked. In the village it was a common sight to see women with a pillow, cotton and bobbins making Buckinghamshire lace. Also many people reared Aylesbury ducks and kept other fowl. Towards the weekend a cart would come round and buy these for the market. They called the man The Eggler".
A Broad Accent
"It was difficult at first to understand many things when people were talking. They spoke a very broad, almost a language of their own."
Not A Lot Of Bother?
"As I grew older I often went down the village for some fun. Apart from changing gates or playing up with peoples' doors, I don't think I caused a lot of bother, although I understand the village policeman told my father he thought it a good thing when I went to sea...."
'Oxford' In The Pit
"One day we boys heard some bad news. Now the lavatories used to be a little building at the top of the garden, with a bucket, but at the rear of some there was a pit. Of course these were emptied occasionally. A man nicknamed 'Oxford' was an expert at this. One day the earth at the side gave way. 'Oxford' was in it!"
"A few months before I was fourteen I told my father I was going to apply to enter what was called a Labour examination. My father said I wouldn't pass. However I went by train to Aylesbury in company with another school mate. Shortly afterwards when I went to school one morning, the schoolmaster said I had passed the examination and that I could go home, but he said it would be good to stop and say the usual prayers first. I soon nipped home...."
P.S. "I did a water colour painting of the bodgers, which was hung in the Royal Institute in Piccadilly".
The parson referred to was the Reverend William Robson.
The landlords at the Pink and Lily were Tom Wheatley and his wife.
I was born in the King William Pub in Speen in 1951 where my Great Grandparents ran the Pub, my Great Grandfather Alfred Lovett was at the time a well known bodger and haulier.
Very soon after, my parents Don and Freda Hatt moved into 11 Greenlands, we were one of the first residents on this small development which at the time was run by Wycombe District Council.
The bungalow we occupied was at the bottom of the road and we were fortunate to have a large garden but the downside of living on a hill was that to get into the bungalow there were 5 steps to the front and back doors (which made it difficult for Mum to get a pram up and down these steps). I remember Mum telling me that she had to push the pram to Speen for the baby clinic as there were no facilities in the village or a bus service to Speen.
The bungalow as I remember had a copper boiler in the kitchen where the washing was done and an open fire in the main room and also an open fire in one bedroom. I also recall that in the Winter the windows being single glazed would freeze on the inside so it was pretty cold going to bed, no luxury of central heating or electric blankets. In those days there was a Bakery on what is now the junction of Goodacres and Main Road and I regularly went to collect bread for my Mum although the end piece rarely found its way home!
I attended St John's School at the bottom of the village from age 5, at that time there were only 2 classrooms and the main one was heated by a large black stove, we always tried to sit next to this heater in the winter to keep warm. We had free milk of a third of a pint which again in winter was put next to the heater to thaw out!! About once a year the "nit lady" would give us a once over to check we were clear, we also had a health check and I remember us lining up in the corridor in just our vest and knickers. Whatever the weather we had to walk to and from school every day. At the age of 11 we had to say goodbye to the village school and headed off to High Wycombe for our secondary education.
I attended the Methodist Chapel for Sunday School, where Mrs Church played the organ and Mr Frank Claydon hand pumped the bellows. During the course of the year several functions were organised. We looked forward to the Anniversary where we would recite recitations and poems to the congregation and of course had a new dress for the occasion. We also went to an Old People's Home in Aylesbury to relate our recitations to them. Summer trips were organised to the coast for a day out. Harvest Festival was arranged so that we bought fruit and vegetables along and then soon after these were auctioned off and proceeds went to the Chapel funds. There was also a Christmas Party in the Village Hall organised by Gordon May and Mrs Church where games were played, a lovely spread of party food and a good time was had by all.
In later years the village Youth Club was opened in the Village Hall and this had a good reputation and was attended by not only the teenagers from Lacey Green but also from outside the village.
In the years of my childhood the village was smaller and as a result most people knew one another, indeed the Doctors Surgery was held once or twice a week in a private house on the corner of Westlands Road.
I continued to live in Lacey Green until I was 20 and it is where I met my Husband, we got married in the St John's Church with our reception in the old Village Hall following which we moved away to various villages around Lacey Green eventually moving back in 2000 to live in Winterfold. Ironically Winterfold is sited on what was known in my years as a child as "The Dell" where we spent many happy hours playing.