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, 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…


  1. Nice one Sue but I'm not sure head butting was part of the job description for head girls back then. Such family loyalty though. I could have done with you on my side at Quainton.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Sue doesn't like injustice of any kind, so she is the one to have on your side. I’m lucky to have her as my sister.

  2. Oh dear, second attempt to comment. I was only about four years old when I head butted the teacher and as far as I was concerned she should not have hurt my big brother.

    1. Sorry about that Sue, I thought it would be easier now I've removed the word verification. Oh well, back to the drawing board. Night x

  3. It's very nice reading about Sue's childhood! I'd never imagine headbutting anyone, let alone a teacher (but I'm sensing she'd deserved it). It was so sweet you brought daffodils home to your mom.

    1. Hello Claudine, we really appreciate you taking the time to visit and comment. I had forgotten how hard it is to connect with people when starting a new blog.
      Have a great weekend, Barbara & Sue


I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara x

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