My mum Rene (Alice Irene Flitney née Harding) died in 1999. When my brother, sister and I went through her things we found an envelope full of old newspaper clippings and other bits and pieces. We looked through the papers and put the envelope away, but those yellowing pieces of paper keep whispering of half-forgotten times and places. Places like Butlers Cross, Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury, West Wycombe, Little Kimble, Wendover, Ellesborough, Southcourt and Princes Risborough.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Guest Post; My Sister Remembers – Part One

I was born on the 20th May 1942 in the flat at Ibstone House, Ibstone, Nr High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire where my mum, Irene known as Rene, was the housekeeper to Rebecca West and her husband Henry Andrews and my dad, Dennis, was their farm manager.  Rebecca West (Mrs. Andrews) was one of my Godparents, and my full name is Susan Rebecca Irene Flitney.

My brother Tony was four years older than me, and I gather, got up to lots of mischief whilst living at Ibstone House. One year he chopped off the entire crop of tulip heads, and another picked all the flowers off the runner beans. I remember dad being very stern and taking his belt to Tony if he was naughty, and that was quite often. I remember parties at Ibstone House and being given home-made ice cream in the kitchen. Princess Margaret, other Royals and people in the literary world visited, but I can’t remember much about it other than mum “shushing” me if I became too noisy in the house. When I was at school we would perform our summer play at Ibstone House, and it was always a wonderful day with lovely food, and the sun always shone. Once I was asked to sing to Rebecca West’s guests, and in my very shaky voice sang ‘Summer time’. The wall around the house was a magnet for children, and I remember I once took some saddles and bridles from the tack room and put them on the wall so we could all play at ‘hunting’, that was another lecture for me and a belting for my brother.

After a while, we moved to Twig Side Farm (see map).

We had a prisoner of war staying with us and working on the farm. I can’t remember his name, but can remember being scared when I knew he was coming, but in fact, he was a really nice person and good fun to have around. The farm sat in the bottom of a valley with a steep track down. Loggers used to pull felled trees out of the woods using horses with chains; I remember being very scared the first time I heard them thinking it was ghosts in the woods. We had geese, pigs, sheep and chicken. I hated the geese because they used to chase me. I would always run and hide in the barn but on one occasion, they came in under the door, I remember screaming until my mum came to rescue me – I still hate geese!

Mum and I made butter with little wooden butter pats, one of my favourite jobs (and there were plenty!). She also made cheese and grew all our vegetables. I suppose it was the good life, but I am sure very hard work for everyone.  My dad would kill the pigs. He loved trotters (pig’s feet) for breakfast with wild mushrooms - it took me a long time to like pork.

Granny Daisy, Uncle Owen, Auntie Jean and Auntie Margaret used to visit in the summer, and we would have picnics in the fields. We were close to the Thames and in the middle of a most beautiful part of the Chilterns. I always thought Ibstone was a funny name, and it was not until I was older that I found out it is an old English name “Ibba Stan” meaning boundary stone of a man called Ibba. I have not been able to find out who Ibbas was, but he obviously staked his claim to a beautiful piece of England.   

Tony and Sue

 My brother Tony and I went to Ibstone Village School. We had a very steep hill to walk up, and it could get extremely muddy. We wore boots and then changed into slippers before going in to school.

Ibstone Church of England School - July 2014

 Mum became really ill with asthma, and the doctor said it was living in the valley, as it was always damp and misty. Mrs. Andrews decided to have a bungalow built for us in the village. This was really exciting! It was a wood faced detached bungalow built in Sonning Field, hence it was called Sonningfield Bungalow.  We had a garage and a utility room with a washing machine and a mangle. The scariest moment there was when we had a chimney fire and the fire spread to the loft. I have had a fear of fire ever since.

[I remember the night of the fire. I was very young at the time – perhaps three or four?  I was woken by the sound of a huge roar and a crackling, spitting kind of noise. In hindsight, I imagine the roar was the sound of the chimney catching fire, and the other noises must have been the wooden beams in the ceiling burning. My only other memory is of someone lifting me out of bed and then being outside watching sparks shooting out of the chimney.  I’m not sure about the last part. I don’t know if it’s something my mind has added in the intervening years but the sounds have stayed with me all this time and like Sue, I’m terrified of fire... Barbara]

Because Tony was older than me, he left Ibstone School first and went on to a school in Stokenchurch about four miles away. Naturally enough he made new friends and didn't want his sister tagging along any more. I really missed his company and decided I hated all boys! 

Sue in the front garden of Sonningfield Bungalow.  

July 2014; Sonningfield Bungalow replaced by a house named Sonningfield.   

To be continued....


  1. Hello Barbara and Sue,
    A really interesting read thank you. I only wish I could remember more than just vague images of these places as Ibstone featured in my families past also. Twigside farm sounds very familiar but I can't match any memories to it for certain the event happened there.
    Best wishes


    1. Hi John, I was puzzled as to why I had no memory of you at Ibstone, but then I found the following note on the papers you sent “Owen lived at Bovingdon 1939-1945, then moved to Ibstone when John was 5… (April 1948?) then on to Pitchott in Sept 1949”
      I was born in August 1948 so that would explain why I don’t remember. It looks as though you moved away just after my first birthday. I must look at the old photos and see if I can spot you on any of them.
      Sue might remember more. Thanks for commenting, Barbara.

  2. I love all this family history -keep it coming x

    1. Hi Paula, glad you are enjoying it. Part two of your mums memories coming soon! xx

  3. Thanks, Barbara and Sue, for this really fascinating blog post: I think we should all know about our ancestors and this is such a lovely way to do it!

    1. Hello Marilyn, thank you so much for coming to see us here. We are just finding our way around on this new blog, not really sure what direction it will take, but having fun finding out. We really appreciate your comment, Sue & Barbara.

  4. Some lovely memories here, Barbara and Sue. I do feel sorry for poor Tony though..

    1. Thanks Dara. That's what comes of having two sisters. :)

  5. Hi I am 58 now and I also lived in Twigside farm and went to Ibstone infant school.I loved living there and had many happy memories of riding my horses through the woods in 1968/69.

    1. Hello Janice,
      Lovely to hear from you - my memories are getting a bit dim now, but still remember those days with great affection. Did your family buy Twigside Farm? Would be lovely to hear more of your story. 🌻

  6. Hello Janice, thanks for leaving a comment I will pass it on to my sister (Sue) as she who wrote this post. I know she will be happy to hear from You. Barbara


I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara x

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