A Varnished Past – A Carter, Cattleman & Farm Labourer

Bagnall and England

William Cole Bagnall of the Manor and later Holly Tree Farm and David England (with trilby) Courtesy of Bill Griffin

David England (1866-1945).  David worked on the land all his life, variously as a carter’s boy, a cattleman and an agricultural labourer. He could probably turn his hand to most things, as workers on the land were expected to do.

[A carter was a driver of a horse-drawn vehicles used for transporting goods, they usually drove a light two wheeled carriage]

He had been born in Radway in 1866, into one of the many England families living there. David’s parents moved to Drayton for a decade or so, but by 1911 he was in Horley with his widowed mother, with whom he lived. He supported her until her death in 1929. She had her roots in Gloucestershire.

David England has been mentioned by several people as a ‘character’. Bill Griffin writes:

‘David England worked for grandfather [William Cole Bagnall] at The Manor as also shown by him being in the haymaking photo. I can just remember him working in the garden and on the farm at the little house [Holly Tree Farm]. I thought him rather quaint and old fashioned in that he often wore corduroy trousers which had plenty of material in the legs and he had a piece of binder string tied round the calf of each leg to stop the bottoms getting too dirty. (Binder string was the string used in the binder, the machine that cut the corn and tied it into sheaves. It was used for all purposes on the farm, usually second-hand after being cut from the sheaf at threshing and saved) The string tied round the legs used to be regarded as something done by the labourers and was used in cartoons etc. to denote a country yokel.

It just suited both parties that he came, was told what wanted doing, and just got on with it. It was, of course, a seven day a week job as there would be a couple of cows to milk, a couple of calves, a few pigs and some chickens to feed. But stockmen accepted that the job was a seven day job – they just did not expect days off every week as happens now. Times change but I am sure they are not so satisfied with their lives now as they were then.

I remember he was very good at handling bees. There were three or four hives in the orchard [at Holly Tree Farm] and David used to tend them and deal with the swarms. Grandmother also used to tend the bees. One of my treats of having tea at Horley was to have honey direct from the comb as I was very fond of the wax! I believe David was a bachelor who lived on his own after his mother died (not certain of this). Herbert Rump (a truly great character) took over when David stopped.’

Extract from A Vanished Past Volume 1 £15   Both Volumes and p&p £33. From Clare Marchant, Shaftesbury House, 15 Circus Street, Greenwich, London SE10 8SN or marchantclare@hotmail. Cheques payable to Clare Marchant.