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.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Guest Post; My Sister Remembers - Part Four

Memories of Susan Poulter nee Flitney; Sue is my older sister (although she looks younger!)
Previous instalments here, here and here 

Great excitement came to the village of Ibstone in 1953. It was the year of the Coronation of Elizabeth II which in Ibstone meant a sports day, decorated cycle competition and many other events. Tony and I entered the best decorated cycle competition and spent hours putting red, white and blue crepe paper around the spokes in the wheels and everywhere else we could add a bow or flag we did – but we did not win a prize. Most of the village turned up to watch the ceremony on our TV, and I remember mum was in her element making tea, handing round cakes etc.,

In the summer life would be really good (as long as mum and dad were talking), dad would take us all to Shiplake where we would paddle in the river and have picnics. Summer in my memory was always hot and sunny, apart from the thunderstorms, which I hated. I spent many hours in the woods making camps with my friends, swinging from ropes on trees and pretending I was in the circus. I always imagined that one day I would move to the other side of the valley, have a big house and horses, shame dreams get shattered!

    Rene Flitney (left) and Denis Flitney (right) in the river with Tony, Sue, Barbara & friends       

It was hard for mum and dad to keep up with all the demands for uniform, items for cooking classes, material for needlework classes, gym kit and so on at High Wycombe school and I would often be the one that didn't have all I needed. This led to other children being really nasty and the fact that my dad had an old car also meant I got a lot of stick. Homework would take me hours as I was so anxious all the time, so it was with some relief that I learnt my dad was looking for a new job and we would be leaving Ibstone. Mr. and Mrs. Andrews had decided to get rid of the Jersey cows, which were my dad’s pride and joy, and replace them with pigs which, although we had some when we lived at Twigside for our own consumption, he didn't like working with.

Mum was really upset as she had friends at Ibstone and a lovely modern detached bungalow but, dad being dad, did his own thing and got a job on a farm near Thame in Oxfordshire and moved us all in to a much older, inner terrace house. This was a real come down for mum who was most unhappy with it.  I was about twelve when we moved, and I think the farm was at Scotsgrove. Excuse me (Barbara) butting in here, I just want to confirm the farm is at Scotsgrove. Terry and I visited in July 2014.

The house at Scotsgrove in the 50s - could that be mum in the doorway?

The same house in 2014, the only noticeable difference is the size of the hedge!

There was a large carthorse called Captain  who I was allowed to ride and as horses were my great love I started to relax. I took myself off on long rides at the weekend with no tack other than a rope halter. There were lovely bridle ways around Thame so summer was a joy; I used to ride down a track which ran outside the grounds owned by Sir Lawrence Olivier (the English actor) and his beautiful wife Vivian Leigh. I always thought I might see them one day, but no such luck.

In the winter the meadows opposite our house would flood and then freeze so we would all go ice-skating whenever we could. My sister, Barbara, remembers going out in the meadow before the water froze, with a little boat belong to my brother Tony.

I do remember it Sue. I don’t know how old I was, but I hadn’t started school – so not very old. Tony had a sailing yacht, and I thought it would be fun to float it on the flood waters. I crossed a road in front of the house and then walked a fair way down a track to the fields. It wasn't long before the water was over the top of my wellies but it didn’t deter me.  I must have been playing in the water for at least a couple of hours when I heard shouting and looking up, saw mum, dad and several other people heading towards me through the floods. It’s probably one of the only times I ever saw dad looking really cross!  By the time they found me, half the people in the village (including the local bobby) were out searching. I remember dad scooping me up onto his shoulders and carrying me back home through the floods – quite an adventure but one I didn't repeat!

By this time, life was a little better for mum as Thame was not far away and there were more shops, and she could get out easily by catching a bus at the stop opposite the house. I went to Aylesbury Grammar School and found it was much nicer going to a mixed school. My dad had been a prefect there in his school days and some of the older teachers remembered him, so I was made to feel very welcome and put into his old “house". Sport became my first love. I was in the school hurdles team and did quite well. I also sang in the school choir and because I was more relaxed, my academic work started to improve.
Thame High Street and Town Hall, 1957

My Auntie Babs and Uncle Fred lived in Aylesbury. They were competition ballroom dancers before retirement and my Auntie was also a pianist. They said I could have dance or piano lessons and I choose the piano. I used to go to them after school one day a week and I think I loved the tea more than the lessons. My aunt always served up small cucumber sandwiches and little home-made cakes on beautiful china and I was very impressed. I had a piano at home (it had been left me by a different aunt when we lived at Ibstone) so I thought it would be lovely to be able to use it properly. Of course, I could not practice as much as I should because living in a terraced house it upset all the neighbours!

Unfortunately my time at Aylesbury School didn't last long as within a year my dad had fallen out with his employer and we were on the move again. I think he had numerous interviews, but the one we children remember best was one for a job on the Isle of Wight. The journey across was awful with a really bad storm; I remember sitting up on the deck where I felt safest and chatting to a farmer who was taking sheep over to the island. When we got there we went in dad's car to what seemed the centre of the island to this most beautiful farm. The farmer and his family seemed very nice and friendly. They had dogs, horses, a tennis court and swimming pool – all the things that were quite impressive to us youngsters. The house that went with the job was a really large very old farmhouse and mum hated it – said that it reminded her of Twigside, and she was not going back to “the dark ages”. We were very disappointed, as I think was dad. On the way back to the ferry we stopped and picked some lovely white flowers – well we had never seen wild garlic before - the car smelt awful for days!!

Sue and Barbara on The Isle of Wight 

To be continued….

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Guards Menswear, London and Basingstoke in the 1960s.

The prompt for this week’s Sepia Saturday is Bobbies, bellies, bums, brushes and beards. 

I'm not sure what the collective noun for a group of bellies is. A bouquet of bellies was the best I could come up with, but I also like a bevy, a bulge and an embarrassment! Anyone got any better ideas?

This is a photo of me with a group of work friends and colleagues about to join the carnival procession. The year was 1969, and the carnival was in Basingstoke, Hampshire. I'm standing in the front row fourth from the right (in front of the cooking pot!), with my friend Annike to my right and Rose our office manager to my left.

It took weeks and weeks to make the paper flowers, grass skirts and palm trees, but it was a lot of fun! A couple of low bridges on the way to the town centre played havoc with the trees. It was made even worse when we set off along the route because the lorry in front of us was complete with a fully operational water canon! The boys on that float thought it was hilarious to soak the girls on ours. This was in the days when you jammed lots of people onto small vehicles not like the ‘monster trucks’ in use now.

We all worked at Schneider’s (Guards Menswear) so goodness knows why the chap on the back of the lorry thought it was a good idea to remove his trousers!

Since 1843 Guards have trousered the well-dressed man. Guards in the modern mood, with many refinements born of this long experience, are available in remarkably fine Worsteds, Gabardines and Twills...

When I started working for Guards, the business was located in Durward Street, Whitechapel, but it wasn’t long before they moved to Basingstoke. The 1960s saw lots of businesses moving out of the city into ‘overspill’ towns as part of the Greater London Plan. I loved the excitement of going ‘up to London’ by train and was sorry when the time came to move. Now of course, I wish I had taken more notice of my surroundings. I have a vague recollection of a tall building, an old-fashioned lift and the office where I worked. I assume there must have been machine rooms and cutting rooms, but I honestly couldn't say.

Above: Durward Street in the 1960s, practically unchanged from 1888

My memories are more about the girls I worked with, many of them born and bread in that part of London, and the places we visited in the lunch hour. Market stalls, pubs and shops were the things of interest back then.  How I wish I could return to my seventeen-year-old self and take a proper look around!  I do remember being nervous on the walk to and from the underground station, especially on murky evenings. My head was always full of stories of Jack the Ripper, London smog, dark alleyways and gruesome murders. Durward Street (formerly Buck's Row) was close to where the body of Jack the Ripper’s first victim was discovered.

Police Constable Neil with the Body of Mary Ann Nichols in Buck's Row, Whitechapel

The Gloucester Citizen 08 September 1888

The scene of the crime is not far from Buck's-row, where the woman Nicholls was lately murdered. The discovery was made by John Davis, living at 29, Hamborough-street, in the yard of which the body was found. Mr. Davis was crossing the yard at a quarter to six, when he saw a horrible looking mass lying in the corner. While he was gone to give information to the police, Mrs. Richardson an old lady, sleeping on the first floor, was aroused by her grandson, and looking out of the back window saw the body lying in the yard. The throat was cut from ear to ear, and the deceased was lying on her back with her legs outstretched; her clothes were pushed up above the knees, and the body was ripped up from the groin to the breast-bone, the heart and liver were torn out, and the remains were lying in a pool of blood...

I had no idea this post was going to turn out to be quite so gruesome. It’s amazing the twists and turns these stories take.  Something that surprises me time and time again is how one thing leads to another.  Every time I set out to research one member of my family, I find myself meandering around lots of dead ends and dark alleyways – much as I did here!

Follow this link to read more Sepia Saturday post.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

As I Recall - Pitchcott continued by John Flitney

Before I continue with my journey, I will go back a little way and include some photos relevant to the previous episode. You know when things turn up when you are searching for something totally different, well that is what happened with these pictures. The first three are at Ibstone and show Twigside Farm. So aptly named given all the woodland around. The centre one shows the house and farm buildings. The barn with the huge black doors is on the right. In fact, the whole barn is black, so I expect it was timber clad and had been preserved with a mixture of creosote and used engine oil. The other two are close-ups of the house, front and back. Both Richard (my elder brother) and I are standing outside the garden fence at the front but only Richard is on view at the back. I am probably lurking in another patch of nettles. My bedroom was located at the side of the house with the single chimney and overlooked the track to the barn and with views out toward the woods.

A second trio of photographs, taken at Lower Farm, Pitchcott, depict the front of the house taken from out in the big field with Mimi in the foreground. A similar scene was painted in oils by a very talented young art student. He later went on to achieve a senior position at the Royal Academy. Whisky and the piglet she ‘mothered’ feature in the other two. The story got into the local paper, and we did have a picture of her and the pig when she was smaller than the pig. I will leave you to make up your own caption as to what the cat is thinking.

I am grateful to Barbara for supplying the copy of the newspaper article below.

“Whiskey”, a black and white cross-bred spaniel terrier bitch, belonging to Mrs. E. M. Flitney, of Lower Farm, Pitchott, near Aylesbury, has never had any pups, so when, nine weeks ago, “Piglet” was introduced into the household, “Whiskey” Decided that her maternal instincts should be satisfied.
“Piglet”, so named after the famous character in “Winnie the Pooh”, was a baby pig who could not be nourished by her mother and became so weak that she was taken indoors. Once the dog had seen her she took her immediately to her box, suckled her and guarded her. Now “Piglet” is bigger and heavier than her foster-mother, and a firm friend also of Mrs. Flitney’s other two dogs, “Suki” and “Mini.”
“Whiskey” nursed the piglet for a month, after which her feeds were supplemented with warm milk and meal. “Piglet” has become a house-hold word with Mrs. Flitney’s two sons, Richard, aged 11, and John, aged 8, and a board has been placed across the back door of the house to prevent the pig from walking in and out, though she will enter by the front door when she sees an opportunity. Occasionally “Piglet” will visit her own mother on the farm, a brief conversation will ensue between mother and daughter, and “Piglet” will play with her brothers and sisters for a while but she always returns to the dog who fostered her and sleeps away from the other pigs in a shed at the back of the house. So close is her attachment to “Whiskey” that she will chase the other dogs away from her food, but allow her foster-mother to share it with her. “Piglet” will sometimes go rabbiting with “Whiskey.”

I was miles away then! Just got back from a little reverie (goes for dictionary) Ok! reverie it was. Had been out rabbiting at Pitchcott.......... Whisky was way out in front, all wiggles and excitement, sniffing everything that might relate to rabbit. She is closely followed by piglet at full trot, ears flapping loudly against cheeks, tail stiffly erect the hairs on the end streaming out like a little flag. Next come two boys in stealth mode, cap guns in hand (this was injun territory yesterday). They are quietly pursued by Mimi, disdainfully waiting for something to be ‘put up’ that would be worth her bothering to chase. All the afore mentioned are trailed by Suki who is struggling to keep up. Doing her usual circuits and bumps, she is going round in circles trying to keep the scent but keeps bumping into things.........................

Now back to the story....

So I have been consoled and checked over for injuries, by Mum, after my porcine induced panic. Been given all the advice on which way to face while riding a pig and congratulated on not ‘boaring’ the audience etc etc by the men “But, can we now stop larking about and get the pig sorted please?”

Dad had three nasty accidents that I can remember at Pitchcott that involved trips to hospital. I’m not sure whether the animal involved in one of these incidents was at the farm when we arrived, or if it came later. It was a big grey carthorse of dubious temperament, and on the day in question Dad had it hitched to a wagon with a load of hay on it. This was to be taken out in the field to feed the cattle. On this occasion brother and I were allowed along for the ride. At almost the farthest point from the house it happened. During a stop to throw off more hay the reigns tangled with the horse’s tail. When Dad pulled them to try and free them the horse brought both back legs up between the shafts and kicked backwards then took off at a gallop. I remember seeing Dad fall off to one side of the cart but as to Richard and me I have no recollection. Apparently, the horse galloped all the way back to the rick-yard and was brought to a halt by the cart wedging between a rick and the side of a barn. Richard had to run all the way to Blackgrove to get help. Dad lay in the field for over an hour before any proper medical help arrived, he had been hit on one leg and had a compound fracture as a result. Ouch! The horse I think must have been re-homed soon after. Another time he gave himself a nasty gash close to one eye while trying to straighten a spring tine from a field hay rake. The third incident involved burns to both his hands and arms. Fortunately, close to where it happened was a large puddle and he had the presence of mind to roll in that to douse the fire, caused by a petrol spillage, or it could have been much worse. It did make life for a farm worker a tad difficult though having both arms bandaged to the elbows.

Not to be outdone I managed to do myself a mischief at school. All the dividing fences were of iron railings, the tops of each post being pointed. The fence between the boy’s playground and the allotment patch, where we were taught gardening, was on top of a low wall. At one spot there was a small pond outside the fence. So, I am stood on top of the wall with my arms folded on top of the fence, my chin on my arms, as I search for life in the water. Now, as you know, grass likes to grow through fences and when grass is trodden on it can become slippery. Yep! I slipped off the wall. Fortunately, my impaled left arm didn't bleed very much and no serious damage was done, other than to my pride. So off to hospital for treatment and a telling off from the doctor when I suggested he was putting the (Tetanus?) injection in the wrong arm as I had hurt the other one. “Shut up! Who’s doing this, me or you?” [Not impressed with his bedside manner at all]. I quite amused mum when we went back to have the stitches out though. She said I was quite nervous about it and then when my name was called I blushed enough to turn the walls pink. Yet when I came out after I looked whiter than Persil washing.

Another silly thing I did, it seemed a good idea at the time, well considered, quite logical I thought, until Mum asked what I had been doing. When the thrashing was done the chaff would be taken away from the rick-yard and dumped in a big heap in a field. Later it would be burnt, initially it would blaze quite fiercely but then would die back and smoulder for days. It then became an attraction for boys as they could attack it with sticks to expose unburnt lower layers and create fresh blazes.
Now this was hot work so a bottle of drink was essential. Then, bright idea, wear wellie boots to get deeper into the ash without getting black feet. Yes! it worked well......until....I went too far and was standing in chaff that was still smouldering under the ash and my feet were getting exceeding hot. Out of the heap I tried taking the boots off but that put my feet in closer contact with the hot rubber. So I was dancing around like I was doing a “Strictly” audition, getting in a panic,when, *Flash* brilliant idea. I poured the contents of my drink bottle into my boots. All very well until I got home and mum demanded to know how I had got two wet feet and yet been nowhere near deep water and was smelling strongly of smoke and burnt rubber. I had cooled my feet but warmed mum’s temper. So no more ‘dragon tickling’ for a day or two........

A tad more to follow when things have cooled down again.

If you would like to read previous episodes, you can do so here and here

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

High Holborn Farm - then and now.

High Holborn Farm is another of those names from the past; 

My dad (Denis William Flitney) and my grandmother (Daisy Clara Flitney nee Stopps) must have discussed the farm, but I don’t remember any of the stories. I just have a strong recollection of the name, and the fact that it was close to a place called Little Kimble in Buckinghamshire. Terry and I visited Little Kimble several times during our holiday but the farm always eluded us. Then on the final day we decided to have one last try. We drove around the area a few times and were on the point of giving up when we happened upon an elderly lady out for a walk.   A quick question to her and we were on our way. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to see the name. It’s somewhere I've ‘known’ for more than 60 years without knowing it at all.

William and Mary Stopps (via

Research shows that my great grandfather William Benjamin Stopps (Jan 1866 - Feb 1940) and his wife, Mary Ann Stopps née Walker (1864 - 1935) were living on the farm at the time of the 1901 census. Prior to that William and Mary and four of their children lived at Barge Close Cottages, Main Road, Little Kimble. In the 1891 census, William was recorded as an agricultural labourer but by the time of his move to the farm his title had changed to farmer.   This appears to show a step up the social ladder but much more research needs to be done to find out if William owned the farm or was employed as a tenant farmer.   

According to paperwork kindly passed on to me by my cousin John (Flitney). William was set up on the farm by his father who gave him two cows and his wife’s great Aunt (Hilsden) who gave him a pig. At the time of the 1881 census, Benjamin (William’s father) was living at Lower Farm, Little Kimble employing two men and a boy to work his 137 acres. There will be more about Benjamin in a later post, but for now I want to concentrate on William, Mary and their children.

High Holborn Farm in the 1920s.

The 1901 census records five children living at High Holborn Farm;

Annie Edith aged 16 (1885-1931) mothers’ help.
Albert William aged 15 (1886-1945) farmer's son.
Henry Owen aged 13 (1887- 1947) farmer's son.
Florence Elizabeth aged 12 (1891-1977) scholar.
Daisy Clara aged 9 (1892-1981) scholar.  (Daisy Clare is my grandmother later married to Arthur Denis Flitney)

The 1911 census also records another daughter Violet May (1904-1932)  

William and Mary had one other son - Arthur Ernest born 5th December 1902 - died 13th March 1903.

It’s strange to think I have so many aunts and uncles I know nothing about. I do recall stories about Auntie Flo (Florence Elizabeth), so will be exploring those stories and seeing what else I can discover to share in later posts.

While searching through old newspaper looking for anything concerning the family, I came across this little snippet from the Bucks Herald, 12th March, 1921.

Ermine in Bucks;
On Feb 20th Mr. F. H. Parrott sent to the Bucks County Museum at Aylesbury a stoat killed at Kimble by Mr. Wm. Stopps that had assumed the completely white colour, which is unusual with these animals every winter in very cold climates. In this state their skins are the fur known as ermine. In England, this change of colour is a comparatively rare occurrence, and one would not have expected to find such a fine example after the mild winter that we have experienced this year. It may be noted that the black tip to the tail never changes colour even in the coldest climates.

I contacted the Bucks County museum to see if the stoat was still in their collection and received a very helpful reply from Mike Palmer (Keeper of Natural History).  The following is a précis of that reply.

We do have a record for the stoat in the museum register which reads “Stoat, female killed at Kimble after a long spell of mild weather, 20th Feb 1921 (quite white except for small space round each eye). Obtained from Mr. F. H. Parrott”.  Mr. Parrott and his brother donated a large number of geological specimens to the museum. Both are from a well-known family of Aylesbury solicitors (Parrott and Coales Solicitors still have an office in Aylesbury today).

In 1968, a major audit of the Museum’s collection was undertaken, and this specimen was unfortunately not found. Strangely, there are three more white/yellowish white stoats in the collection, two from Marsh near Kimble collected by a Mr. Franklin in February 1911 and again in 1912 along with another from nearby Aylesbury collected by a Mr. Batson in February 1922.

Mike ends his reply by saying, “it’s a pity we couldn't come up with the stoat or Mr. Stopps”.   

Thanks for trying Mike!

So back to trawling newspapers I came across another cutting this one concerning the death of Mary.

Bucks Herald 8th February, 1935.
Stopps  - on February 3rd, Mary Ann Stopps, of High Holborn Farm, Little Kimble, passed peacefully away, aged 71 years.

A week later, the same newspaper carried this report of the funeral;

The funeral of Mrs. Mary Ann Stopps, wife of Mr. Wm. Stopps of High Holborn Farm, Little Kimble, took place at Princes Risborough Baptist Church on Thursday week. A service was held at Little Kimble Free Church, conducted by the Rev. H. C. Shaddick, prior to the interment.

Mrs. Stopps died on the previous Sunday. She had been in failing health for some time, but was actually confined to bed only a few weeks, ever since her 71st birthday. She was a native of Wendover, and had lived with her husband at High Holborn Farm for 44 years. They celebrated their golden wedding last November.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Stopps were regular attendants at the Kimble Free Church, and a number of fellow members of the congregation were present at the funeral.  

I'm curious to find out more about the family and what happened to the farm. William died in 1940 so presumably his tenancy (if that was what it was) ended with his death but what of his sons and daughters, did none of them want to work on the land? Had they all married and moved away by then? How did two World Wars touch their lives?

High Holborn Farm July, 2014.

The idea for this blog came about in July 2014 after a visit to Buckinghamshire. At that time, I had no intention of finding out more, and was certainly not interested in researching back through the generations. Initially, the blog was a way to share the photographs from the holiday. Since then it's become an all-consuming habit! I knew nothing of genealogy or family history research three months ago so this is a very steep learning curve. I hope you will bear with me as I stumble around looking for clues.  

Until next time, Barbara.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Guest Post; My Sister Remembers - Part Three

Memories of Susan Poulter nee Flitney; Sue is my older sister (although she looks younger!)
Previous instalments here and here

We had Religious Instruction in school and had to learn the Catechism off by heart – a very scary thing when you are five years-old  – and it took me ages, but I got it in the end.  All the children from the village attended St. Nicholas, a really lovely old Norman church with a solemn vicar (I can’t remember his name). The church stood about a mile from where we lived overlooking the Turville Valley. Harvest Festival was always special. We all took vegetables or flowers. Mum and Dad had a grand garden, so we always took plenty. I loved going to church to look at all the paintings and sing the hymns. Easter was always a favourite time, especially as we got to take a daffodil home for mum. I continued going to church until we left Ibstone but lapsed after that for a good number of years (until my banns were to be called).

St. Nicholas Church, Ibstone
St Nicholas Church Ibstone

In my last year at Ibstone Church of England School, I was made Head Girl. I thought I was very clever and wanted to become a teacher.   I didn’t know what bullying was back then and the worst thing that ever happened to me was being given the cane after head butting my teacher, Mrs. Britnell. I thought she deserved it at the time as she was giving my brother the cane for some misdemeanour. Anyway, I tried to escape and can remember hanging on the school railings and Mr. Britnell un-prising my fingers and taking me back inside for my punishment.

There were two classrooms and as soon as I went up to the top class, I was allowed to help teach the youngsters to read. How I loved those days, in the winter Mrs. Britnell would warm our milk, which was issued to all pupils free of charge, on a stove in the classroom and make us all hot cocoa. Being at school meant I didn’t have to look out for my little sister, and I had my big brother to look out for me. In the summer we had gardening lessons in Mrs. Britnell’s garden. I think it was all a ploy to get her garden done, but I didn’t mind as I took after mum with my love of gardening. 

The baker used to come to the school in the mornings, and we would buy hot rolls or a small brown loaf for a penny or two. The ‘nit’ nurse came every term, and she would go through our hair with her special comb. I had long plaited hair so it was always very painful and I dreaded it.  One day, another nurse arrived to talk to us about “growing up" I vividly remember a couple of girls coming back from this ‘chat’ in tears and the rest of us being scared to go in. Eventually, I was persuaded and did my usual, shut off from it all and said that I understood I then went out to the other girls and said, “Oh it’s nothing only about having babies – a load of old rubbish, and I’m not having any anyway.” Maybe I should have stuck to that!

Cobstone Windmill, Ibstone, July 2014. 

The Chiltern Hills have some of the most beautiful villages and many films and TV shows (including the Vicar of Dibley) have been made in and around Ibstone. There is a windmill on the outskirts of the village, which had no sails at the time we were living there, but later (a long time after we left the village) sails were fitted, and it featured in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  

At the age of ten, I passed the eleven plus examination and went to High Wycombe School for Girls. Mum and dad were very proud of me and Rebecca West bought me a lovely pen and pencil set. This school was another “kettle of fish" it was huge and the classes were large. We had to line up in the correct order every morning and march into assembly. The first task when we went into our classroom was to make an apron ready for our cookery classes. I was hopeless at needlework and pretty hopeless at cooking too – my reports always read something like “theory good – result's rubbish”

Wycombe High School, 1951
Wycombe High School, 1951.

We had to take French and Latin, and I just could not see the sense of Latin at all so paid no attention in class, and I was always getting 100 lines to write at home as well as masses of homework. My dad tried to help with the homework, but he was always busy doing the farm accounts and in the end, I just became a bit of a nuisance. I was totally out of my depth, and the other girls could be very cruel. I would spend ages trying to find all the classrooms for different lessons and for a few months always arrived in class late. I did my usual trick of “shutting off" I was to find out later this was not a very good idea. Teachers had no time for a shy country girl so school became one long nightmare, and I still dream about running down corridors trying to find different rooms.

To be continued…
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