Tag Archives: The Vicarage

A Vanished Past – Book 5 ‘Horley – A Short History in One Invasion and Three Wars’

‘A Vanished Past’ by Clare Marchant is a series of volumes describing various aspects of village life in Horley throughout the 20th century. Book 5 is now available – see attached flyer for more details.

A Dame…..for Horley!

New Years Honour for Glenys

Dame Glenys

Dame Glenys

Our very own Glenys of Rowarth House has been made a Dame in the New Year Honours list ‘for services to education’ (etc).

As the full citation for the award – Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire – puts it:  “Glenys Stacey [Mrs Glenys Kyle] has held tough public roles for two decades. As the founding CEO of the Criminal Cases Review Commission she established an effective organisation from scratch. As CEO of the State Veterinary Service from 2004, she restored morale and reformed its practices following the nadir of Foot and Mouth 2001, enabling it to deal effectively with new outbreaks of animal disease. More recently as Chief Regulator and CEO of the Office for Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) since 2011, she has played a significant role in education, developing Ofqual into an effective independent regulator, maintaining standards in qualifications and leading the reform of GCSE, AS and A levels”.

Seemingly not yet ready to hang up her boots, she takes on a new role from the beginning of March 2016 as HM Chief Inspector of Probation.

Dame Glenys, many congratulations!

Horley Views
DBE (Dame)

Glenys Jean Stacey. Chief regulator and chief executive, Ofqual (Office for Qualifications and Examinations Regulation). For services to education

New Year’s honours 2016: the full list

The new knights, dames, MBEs and OBEs in the UK and overseas

A Vanished Past – Portrait of a Country Couple (5 of 5)

Part 5: Routine and Good Works

by Honor (Morgan) Berry

The pattern of their life was indelibly laid down even before they were married, partly through Jim spending all his working life in the same job, and also because lack of money set strict limits on the choices available to them, in common with many other people. War or peace made little real difference.

Their day began very early and by 5.30am Lucy had made the morning’s first pot of tea. Jim collected the buckets of water from the tap before he went off to work, that is unless the weather was so cold that the tap had frozen. Fortunately that only happened in the worst weather, and if a hard frost was predicted the previous evening, then it was provident to fill the buckets then rather than wait for the morning, otherwise there would be no water for the early morning tea, no bottle of cold tea for lunch, and no water in which to wash faces or hands or do the breakfast dishes, let alone the week’s washing if it happened to be a Monday.

Photograph courtesy of Mrs Lily Stanley & David StanleyJim went off on his bike down the village and stopped half way up the steep hill that rose up on the far side of the brook, where the Ironstone railway bridge crossed the road. As he and the other Ironstone workers arrived they hauled their bicycles up the steep embankment and onto the railway line to wait for the small tank-engine that pulled the van for them and their cycles the short distance to their work place.

Once Jim was away, Lucy’s day was her own until he returned at 3.30 for his dinner. The first thing she did was to cope with the daily chores. She started with the breakfast dishes and got ready for the Co-op milkman’s call. This sit-down-with-a-cup-of-tea visitation not only brought in the milk, but the news of the condition of the roads and the weather, and most important, details of what had happened locally in other villages overnight. It gave Lucy a head start in the exchange of news and in the circles of those who like her had an insatiable curiosity about local goings-on. Armed with her news she would barter with it later in the day.

Water tap outside Chapel Cottage 1930s cWm Gunn 2013Lucy was lucky to have one of the four village taps outside her front garden gate. Others who lived further away had to carry their pails as far as 75 yards – and this alone must have provided motive for not washing clothes more often than necessary.

Since Lucy had no sink she washed up in an enamel bowl. The water had to be boiled in a kettle and then some soda added to make the hard Oxfordshire water a little softer, and to dissolve the fat more easily. She never rinsed the dishes, for that needed extra water, but simply dried them and put them away with an invisible veneer of chemical still on them. The water was kept for a while in case there should be a further use for it.

Next the fire had to be cleared out, the ashes riddled, and the fireplace laid with screwed up newspaper, sticks and finally coal ready for lighting later in the day. This job had to be done before the rest of the house was cleaned because it raised so much dust. Once completed the rest of the cleaning could proceed in earnest.

The floors in Lucy’s house were ancient very uneven flagged stone, but she covered all her floors with shiny linoleum that was easy to clean with a mop. She had rag rugs, made from bits and pieces of hard-wearing fabric (men’s trousers and overcoats) sewn or woven together by women in winter evenings, which were cheerful in front of the fire, and they were simply shaken out now and then in the garden to get rid of the accumulated dust. In the early 1950s Lucy took a great step forward by putting down a fitted carpet in her living room. It was not new, but bought second hand from Mrs Cherry, farmer’s wife in Hornton who was moving house. Jim laid it and it ‘fitted where it touched’, but it was considered very grand by all of us. Lucy had no vacuum cleaner or Ewbank so the carpet was brushed with a hard broom to clean it. The carpet added a feeling of warmth, even if it did go up and down over the lino covering the irregular undulating flagstones.

Lucy did not have a great deal of furniture, so there was not much polishing to do. She had an ornate ebonised glass-fronted sideboard in her sitting room given her by the Davieses at the Firs over the road, a Pembroke table, a pretty set of balloon-back chairs, and a wonderfully painted grandfather clock. These all had to be polished with wax polish, since there were then no spray cleaners. By way of decoration she had a few watercolours, a stuffed squirrel in a glass case, and a large print of the Stag at Bay. A duster flipped across these served well enough, and the only other items in the room were the two armchairs that she and Jim sat in by the fire every evening. She exchanged these from time to time, swapping one for a chair thrown out by one of the people she worked for, or buying one that somebody was selling for half a crown. Lucy re-covered them when they got worn or when she was able to buy a cheap remnant from one of the market stalls in Banbury. Her upholstery skills were rough and ready, and the material was pulled across the most important parts of the chair and sewn in place, leaving some of the chair showing the old material. These parts were covered up by turning that side of the chair to the wall or covering the gap with a cushion, but the chair looked clean and new.

There was little to do upstairs. Before she had a sprung mattress the feather one needed shaking up to get rid of the lumps, but apart from that she had only to empty the chamber pot. Chamber pots, (sometimes called Jerries) along with wasps and a former boyfriend, were things that Lucy could not abide. She was happy enough to have a pot under the bed to use in the depths of night rather than go downstairs and out into the garden to use the earth closet, but she did not like to empty them.

This routine was generally how Lucy coped with her housework, but the pattern varied according to the weather, the time of year, the day of the week or other activities which took over. Like most people, Lucy did her washing on Mondays. That is unless it was pouring with rain. Then it had to wait until the weather turned, but if it was fine the process began by placing a big pan of soapy water and clothes on the paraffin stove to boil. Since it was dark in the kitchen Lucy did her washing in the garden, in a large bowl on a stool. Because of the effort of boiling all the water, one lot was used for many clothes and rinsing was kept to a minimum. A drubbing board was used and the action of rubbing the clothes across its ridges made Lucy’s knuckles red and the clothes clean. When the clothes had been pummelled about for a while, they were rinsed and wrung out, first by hand, twisting them hard to get most of the water out, and then put through the rollers of a mangle to extract the last drops. Finally the sheets and clothes were hung out to dry, held in place by pegs sold by the gypsies – made of split thin branches of wood from which the bark had been cleaned. It was at this stage that disaster could happen as the damp sheets trailed on the earth, or shirts got blown off the line by a gust of wind. The clothes had to be watched for fear of rain. As soon as the skies looked dark there were worried trips to the window or back door and as soon as it started spotting with rain, the washing, only part dried, would be hastily unpegged and bundled indoors with much tut-tutting and wondering ‘When am I going to do it now? Dratted weather’. If she got all her washing done by the end of Monday, she was doing well, and the ironing was generally left until Tuesday.

Washing and ironing for Lucy were not nearly as difficult as it was for women who had children, though Lucy found it trying enough, particularly the ironing which was fiddly. Heating the heavy flat irons on the grate needed judgment: hot enough to vanquish the wrinkles, not so hot that they would burn the clothes. Then speed and skill were needed to do as much of the ironing as possible before the iron lost all its heat and became useless.

By the middle of the week, with a good deal of housework behind her, Lucy took time out. She visited her family once a week cycling miles through country lanes to Hook Norton until she ‘took ill’ in middle age and used the bus instead.

Once a week she also visited her mother-in-law in Hornton – as long as they were ‘talking’. Old Mrs Eadon was sharp-tongued and intolerant of Lucy’s foibles, and did not soften with age.

Market day in Banbury was on Thursdays and Lucy always caught the Stratford Blue bus at 8.45 to go and do her shopping. A trip into Banbury needed some organising for there were few buses, and any activities in Banbury had to be fitted into these times. The buses moved very slowly, but Lucy enjoyed the chat and the news from the other villages when she was on the bus, so it was worth the effort.

Since Lucy’s day started so early she had usually completed a great deal by lunchtime. At about half past one, when she had washed up the lunch dishes and had a cup of tea in whatever house she happened to be, Lucy’s thoughts turned towards Jim’s dinner that he had at half past three after work. Everyday Lucy prepared a generous meal for Jim: tender roasts or tasty casseroles finished off with a pudding, and each day he ate but a miniscule portion. Lucy on the other hand did herself proud whether or not she had already had a midday meal.    She did not hold with people ‘going without’ – and neither did anybody else at that time. The shortages of money in the depression, and the rationing of food during the war had raised people’s anxieties about not having enough to eat. No one worried about eating too much and when supplies became available everybody was delighted. Lucy and many of her generation put on large quantities of weight. It became a norm, particularly for women in their forties and fifties, and was called the Middle Aged Spread. Nobody talked of its being unhealthy or unfashionable, it was just how things were and the women affected seemed very comfortable with their size.

The Evenings

Once Lucy had washed up after their main meal about 4pm her activities depended on the time of year. In summer Jim’s evenings were spent in the garden and Lucy might join him and potter about with the flowers. Jim was an excellent gardener and had long, neat rows of perfect vegetables. He grew sweet peas and chrysanthemums for Lucy to cut for the house during the summer and into the autumn. He also grew in addition to the normal green and root vegetables and legumes, shallots, Jerusalem artichokes and just a few black potatoes. If she felt like a stroll Lucy might visit the Astells to look at something Mary wanted to show her, or go and put some flowers on a grave in the churchyard, stopping on the way back to watch an evening cricket match, or even in later years, very daringly, have a drink in the pub if she had a friend with her.

Lucy did not normally go out in the winter evenings, not liking the dark. She enjoyed the cosiness of the winter evenings at home, particularly the long sit-down at the end of the day in the flickering dim light of the paraffin oil lamp. In the great open fireplace Lucy had hung up her collection of brass plates, horse brasses and kettles that caught the light of the fire and shone in bright contrast against the black beams where they were nailed. In front of the fire was a big bold steel fender with fire irons. But however cosy and traditional it looked, the fire gave out heat only immediately around it, so that unless you sat in Lucy’s or Jim’s chair on either side of the fire, you caught the draughts that swept down the chimney and eddied round the house. So, with the curtains drawn, and sitting by the fireside, she would write letters to the innumerable friends that she liked to keep in contact with, or read the women’s magazines which had been passed on to her. Once the BBC began to broadcast The Archers, she and Jim listened to it every day, and to the news that followed it on the wireless. Jim read his thrillers and histories, stuck stamps in his album and looked through the newspapers. If visitors called they stopped, and the caller was presented with a plate of cakes to eat, accompanied by a glass of South African sherry, or some homemade wine. Sometimes Jim enjoyed a game of cribbage or draughts in the winter evenings, but their days ended early and by nine o’clock Lucy was preparing Jim’s supper of pickled walnuts or onions to eat before he went to bed.

By nine thirty Lucy and Jim were in bed for the night. With the advent of electric lighting in about 1955, the process of retiring was made much easier than it had been with the candle which made shadows leap around the old bumpy walls, sloping ceilings and irregular beams.

Once in bed they slept, and there were not many nights when either one of them was still awake to hear the Church clock strike ten.

Lucy’s good works in the village

Although the pattern of her life was governed by housework, it was not Lucy’s first love. However often she repeated, ‘Oi loikes ter see it toidy’ she was relieved when it was done and was not above brushing the odd bit of dust under the carpet saying, ‘No-one wont notice that little bit’. As soon as things in the house were straight she would go out and ‘see to things’ in the village, which was her real passion in life. The lure of conversation and the promise of swapping news hastened her step.

Lucy had a heart that overflowed with kindness. If anyone needed a hand or wanted looking after she would be there offering help and food. She single-handedly looked after the needs of the oldest inhabitants of the village, doing their washing and shopping, undertaking their spring cleaning, collecting their pensions, and even decorating their rooms. Lucy also ordered their bottles of sherry or brandy from the wine merchants, for once they had a choice of the much lauded home-made wine or South African sherry they all opted for the latter whatever they said about the excellence of the former. The older women, Mrs Walden, pronounced Mrs Woaldin and Mrs Chapman were dependent upon Lucy’s unstinting generosity, time, and effort, and both were remarkably ungrateful for her kindness, chiding her for trivialities and calling her a ‘giddy thing’. They instinctively understood the extent of Lucy’s compliant nature. They promised to remember her in their wills but nothing ever came her way.

More rewarding was the work Lucy did with families who were much more appreciative of her willingness to save them from crises. Any slight qualms about her inquisitive questions were more than counterbalanced by her energetic goodwill. Before she worked with our family she had been cook at The Manor for the Stocktons, seen the Astells through their difficult and motherless years, helped the Blythes of The Firs in the 1940s when the four children were small, as well as lending a helping hand with the Rumps and even acting as midwife for an early birth. Lucy always became part of the families she was helping: she bustled around the house cleaning, scrubbing, dusting, hoovering, beating the mats ferociously on the washing line with the handle of the broom, washing and ironing. She did whatever there was to be done with never a second thought. She was unlike any other person in the village. It was a community which placed a very high value on privacy and was also very class bound, yet she was intimately involved in half a dozen homes from quite different classes and whether they were church or chapel made no difference. For some work she received wages, but often she did not. Lucy could never resist the urge to respond to a crisis or a cry for help, and she spent much of her time in this way.

Saturdays and Sundays

Mrs E E Eadon known as Lucy Eadon, Honor , Shân and Mr Jim Eadon in Chapel House gardenSaturdays and Sundays had routines all of their own. Saturdays meant shopping in Banbury in the morning and catching the half past twelve Sumner’s bus home. Afternoons were the time for village activities which anyone could join in such as fetes, jumble sales, decorating the church, doing the teas for cricket matches, and weddings. For Jim it meant the gardening, and doing the odd jobs that had accumulated during the week. Saturdays was the day when the earth closets were emptied. But this was only part of Jim’s Saturday activity, and he was usually found rummaging around his garden, straightening things up, or tying in the sweet peas that grew in profusion in his garden and gave off one of the most fragrant smells of summer. All activity ceased at 4.30. and by a quarter to five Jim was sitting alert in his armchair with a pencil poised to check the pools as the football and racing results were read over the wireless. Jim’s Saturdays were his own, but the same could not be said for Sundays.

On Sunday mornings Jim cycled to Hornton where he saw his parents for an hour or two and helped do the odd jobs that his mother had lined up for him during the week. After cycling back to Horley, he went for a drink in the pub with Harry Walden, who came to call for him, before coming home for his roast Sunday lunch. In the afternoon he read the papers while Lucy had a sleep, and after tea it was time for Lucy to get ready for Church.

There were two places of worship in Horley: the beautiful early English Anglican church at the top of the village on the hill, St Etheldreda’s, and the small, Victorian, Hornton stone Methodist chapel that was attached to the Eadon’s house.

Congregations in both church and chapel dwindled in the fifties, but there remained a core of loyal attenders. At St Etheldreda’s Charley Varney the verger, Lucy and her friend Mrs Tom Allington, the two churchwardens, the school teacher’s family, The Vicarage family and The Manor family. The religious convictions of the believers varied. At one extreme was Miss Gwladys Ball, a bluestocking aesthete, gaunt and gothic in her worship. At the other extreme was Lucy whose knees prevented her kneeling when praying and whose spiritual commitments did not prevent her sucking Mintoes during the sermons, unwrapping them noisily and glancing uneasily over her shoulder to see if anyone was looking.

Mr and Mrs Eadon at Chapel CottageFrom time to time Lucy’s thoughts strayed wistfully towards the Methodist chapel next to her house. Her Sunday evenings would have been easier if she worshipped there. They sat down a lot and she would not have to climb the hill up the village. It was cosy in the chapel, unlike in the church which was cold and draughty despite the huge fire roaring in the massive and antique stove at the back of the church. They sang rousing hymns in chapel and as it was a small building it made a cheerful noise.

Going to church also meant having a good look at who was there, and if they were not, the opportunity to speculate where they were and why. All in all the discomforts were worth tolerating; and there was the added bonus of feeling righteous as she walked down the hill with Charley Varney and Mrs Tom Allington, sucking Mintoes together.

Lucy was a very regular attendee at church. Her only absence was one Sunday when Donald Peers, heart-throb of the early fifties was on the wireless. She stayed at home and was thrilled to hear him sing ‘There’s a little white duck swimming on the water’, but she felt the guilt and did not do it again.

After church on Sunday there was only time to sit down for a while to tell a disinterested Jim who was at church and what they were wearing. Then it was time once again to wind up the machinery for the next week.’


Shân Morgan with Lucy Eadon on the birdbath at The Vicarage 1963 or 64Mrs Lucy Eadon’s role in the life of The Vicarage family was important in the 1960s, particularly to Honor who was young and said: ‘she kept our body and soul together – she had all the essential qualities for those times: she was cheerful, energetic, laughing and she counterbalanced the underlying sadness in our family.’

Frederick Jim Eadon 1903-1972  – Elsie Ethel Eadon 1907 -1975

A Vanished Past – Portrait of a Country Couple (1 of 5)

Lucy – The live-in cook at The Manor

by Honor (Morgan) Berry

Lucy’s life began to take on a new shape when she came to Horley and she knew an independence that had never been hers before. As cook at The Manor her role was clear, and when her work was done, her time was her own.

The Stockton’s who owned Horley Manor were a family of local solicitors. They had two children – Miss Marjory and Master John as Lucy always called them. They entertained a good deal in a modest way and Lucy’s job was to cook the three meals a day that they and the household staff required. She also prepared afternoon tea, and made a quantity of soft, easily digestible food for the aged and infirm of the village that she and the maid distributed twice a week. Since in The Manor household master and servants ate the same menu and drank the same wine life was straightforward for Lucy. The fare was rich and tasty with meat three times a day and a good deal of pastry, gravy, butter, eggs and cream. The cakes tended to be substantial and the vegetables well cooked and traditional. Fish was not much in evidence and neither were raw vegetables, skimmed milk, and the muesli that we value so highly today. Pastas, pizzas, burgers and Chinese food were unknown, and the only foreign cuisine that occasionally appeared was what was called a curry. It was in fact no more than a beef stew with a teaspoon of prepared curry powder added. But curry with its strange flavours and hot spices were not entirely unknown. One or two men in Horley had been to India and tasted the food for real when they had done their soldiering as young men. Charlie Varney was one of them, but I do not recall his praising the food.

Lucy’s days as cook may have been some of the happiest in her life. Lucy loved to feed people and there was constant activity, companionship and good humour. She took pride in the Stockton’s successes and took a nosey interest in their goings-on, so her work was always satisfying, and if it was possible, her spare time was even better.

Lucy walked out with a number of young men at this time. One boyfriend, much in favour, fell from grace because some days after he had taken her out to tea, he tapped at The Manor kitchen window and asked her for the money for it. She counted it out from her purse and then hurled it at him. They never exchanged a word again though they both spent the rest of their lives in Horley.

Lucy’s favourite pastimes were whist drives in the winter, and in the summer gentle walks across the fields to a pub, a little tennis, and best of all, dancing in the gloaming on long warm evenings. It was while she was at The Manor that she met Jim Eadon. He and his friend Bob Gilkes played tennis with Lucy and her friend Violet, the maid at The Manor.

Jim came from Hornton. His ‘Dad’, a fine looking man with a waxed moustache and gentle ways had once been a soldier and had fought in the Boer War. He still had his red jacket to prove it. Because of his dad’s soldiering, Jim had been born in Wellington Barracks, Chelsea, but the family had returned to Hornton where his parents kept The Red Lion pub [or The Dunn Cow?] for some time. Jim worked on the North Oxfordshire opencast ironstone mining works. He worked with his father, and they were known as ‘Big Jim’ and ‘Little Jim’ – the latter taking after his tiny sharp-witted mother. That he never completely broke away from her dominance is not surprising, for she was a tiny dragon of a woman that could have dominated an army.

Jim was every bit as quick-witted as his mother, but he had shyer and softer ways and was happier with Lucy. He found comfort in her stock phrases of ‘make yourself comfy’, ‘that little bit don’t matter’, ‘ʹave another’, ‘noice, hain’t it?’, and, as evening drew on ‘we’ll be ʹaving a drop [a drink] hin a minute’.

Photograph from the Marchant-Hoy-Berry family collections

Photograph from the Marchant-Hoy-Berry family collections Mrs EadonAfter a respectable period of courtship and engagement Lucy and Jim got married in December 1933. Jim was 30 and Lucy 26 – rather older than most people on marriage in those days. After the ceremony at South Newington where Lucy’s family lived they returned to Horley to begin their life together. With her new status in life came changes: Jim would not let her cook at The Manor. He liked her to be at home in the evenings. Lucy left The Manor and moved down the lane. She and Jim lived in The Square and she went to work on a daily basis with the Astells who lived at Bramshill Park Farm. Jim and Lucy got on remarkably well. Lucy’s only slight disappointment was Jim did not eat much, but that did not stop her cooking too much for him.

When she had been cook at The Manor, she and Violet the maid had taken food to the poor and ill of the parish, and Lucy had seen the foul conditions that once active people had to live in if they were not able to look after themselves, and had no running water or sanitation. If they were weak they had to use any container as a lavatory, and they had no strength to empty it – harsh unpleasant details that are rarely recorded or spoken about. She and other women in the village were sensitive about the problems which the lack of drains created, and went to great lengths to keep their lavatories clean, using large quantities of strong- smelling disinfectants such as Dettol and Jeyes Fluid to disguise any unwanted smells.


A Vanished Past – Actors

Valentine Dyall and Charles Dalmon – an excerpt from A Vanished Past Vol. 1

The fact that he was part of a large well-connected family with a wide circle of acquaintances may account for the surprising fact that at some time the Rev. Harold Buxton had in his care at Horley Vicarage (he told us so – though it seems more likely to have been Essex Cottage) the young child Valentine Dyall, with his father Franklin.

Valentine Dyall was to become a well known actor with a famous sepulchral voice. He cornered the market in ghoulish parts intended to create dread and is best known for his narration of the radio horror series Appointment with Fear. He was the English equivalent of the American Vincent Price. Bishop Buxton told us that he bathed Valentine every day in our bathroom. It was hard to imagine a miniature version of the frightening Valentine Dyall slipping around in our old- fashioned bath. Valentine Dyall went on to give his son not only the name Christian, but also the name Jocelyn, which may have been a reference to Harold Jocelyn Buxton.

Valentine Dyall coverIn 2010 the BBC produced an audio CD of the only surviving episodes of Appointment with Fear in the BBC archives: ‘four gripping episodes from the famous 1940s BBC horror series’. They were hugely popular and ran for ten series. Apart from his connection with Horley, and the thrill of the extraordinary rich deep voice of Valentine Dyall, they are wonderful examples of radio drama in the war torn years of the 1940s, and the post-war period.

Bill Griffin (grandson of the Bagnalls of Horley Manor) gave me a copy of Harold Buxton’s four pages of autobiographical notes about coming to Horley. Harold Buxton says:

‘I arrived in Horley with quite a little party. Two special friends, who were glad to be out of London because of the risks [this was during WW1], volunteered to come as ‘paying guests’ to my temporary residence in Essex Cottage. The Vicarage was then occupied by Belgian refugees.

First there was Franklin Dyall, who was a noted person on the stage, mainly in Shakespeare. He was a widower with a small boy of three or four years, Valentine or ‘Val’ Dyall (who himself became an actor and broadcaster in later life). Franklin Dyall was in London during the week but the other friend, Charles Dalmon, the poet, had lived with the Dyalls and was virtually ‘nurse’ to the small boy. Happily Franklin Dyall was with us at the weekends, and always read the lesson at Evensong. His wonderful voice and dramatic reading brought many extra visitors to hear him. Charles Dalmon was known as a modern ‘Herrick’ and came originally from Sussex, the land of poets. He regarded England as the real ‘Arcady’ and I made him poet-laureate of Horley!’

Somebody else also had the laureate idea, and the Horsham Museum and Art Gallery have published a short book, Charles Dalmon, the poet laureate of Sussex by George Cockman. I think Harold Buxton was a romantic. Dalmon was a poet, though not well known and most poems I have found online were written around 1904 (published in The Harper’s Monthly) and discreetly erotic. He was likely gay, and although that is not stated he was a friend of Noel Coward and is reputed to have said ‘my ambition is to be crushed to death between the thighs of a guardsman’! It would be interesting to know if Charles Dalmon wrote any poems when he was in Horley.

Franklin Dyall Although Franklin Dyall was a well-known character actor having 26 films to his credit and many more plays – he was not a Shakespearean actor – I cannot find any Shakespearean play he was in; and he was not widowed as Harold Buxton says – his wife Phyllis Logan had left him. There are some exquisite photographs of her by her future second husband Cavendish Moreton dated 1909 held at the National Portrait Gallery, and which can be viewed on line. They had male twins in 1911. The nice thing for the Horley Church congregation was that they had the pleasure of hearing the pure tones of the man who quite often read the news on the radio, reading the lesson in church.

Harold Buxton’s curacy in Thaxted was at an interesting time. It cannot be co-incidental that his cousin Conrad Roden Noel became Vicar there in 1910, and Harold Buxton became his curate almost immediately. Conrad Noel was known as the ‘Red Vicar’ and was a Christian Socialist. He created a storm of protest by raising the Red Flag and the Sinn Fein flag alongside the flag of St George on the church. Cambridge students attacked the church in what was called the ‘Battle of the Flags’. The matter was only resolved when the Consistory Court forbade the hanging of both the Red Flag and the Sinn Fein flag. Conrad Noel also gathered around him figures from the world of arts: his father was a poet, the composer Gustav Holst was a friend and parishioner, and I believe there were others.

I have wondered whether by sharing his home with the Dyalls and Dalmon, Harold Buxton was hoping to emulate his cousin, or whether the general culture of his family included supporting the liberal arts and artists.

Horley church has a charming watercolour painting by a difficult-to-trace artist Frank W Carter. I believe he was another friend in Harold Buxton’s artistic circle. Weight is lent to this idea because Frank Carter painted a striking portrait of The Red Vicar which now hangs in Thaxted Guildhall. There is also a painting of the interior of Thaxted church on the cover of Conrad Noel’s biography – which has striking similarities to the Horley water colour.

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.

A Vanished Past – A Time of Change (3 of 3)

 A Vanished Past – Vol.1 –  A Time of Change ( 3 of 3) 

Decline and Regeneration

The decline of the village – In 1951 there were about seventy houses and 213 people in Horley. Once the village had been far more populous: it had about twice the population a hundred years earlier[2]. But since the mid 19th century village people had begun to drift away from farm labouring to better paid jobs in Banbury, or metropolitan areas, some emigrated, and the population decreased.

As families left the village there were fewer people to live in their vacated homes, and once they were left unoccupied the fabric of the building and thatch deteriorated until eventually, with the help of a few hard frosts, windowless and doorless, the buildings tumbled into untidy heaps.

Horley Mill Race John Saunders courtesy Patching TrusteesAt the bottom of the village where the course of the Sor Brook had been altered to create a millrace, stood the ruins of the old mill. It had been constructed in the last century and had become no more than a precarious pile of Hornton stone, its windows barricaded with rusting corrugated iron that now flapped in the wind. We sometimes played dangerous games, leaping the terrifying race before it plummeted down its waterfall.

A few yards further up the street Phlox Cottage was tumbling down. This is where Old Mrs West lived until she died just after the war.

Water trench & Tumbledown buildings in the Square1965 WIA little further up the road, just north of Enfield Cottage were other stone buildings that had neither roofs nor upper floors. The people who had lived there had long since been forgotten and they were now the ghostly homes of people only identified by headstones in the churchyard.

A cluster of buildings in The Square had become run down and empty. These had been bought up by ‘Dooky’ Jelfs. The walls of the old houses bulged unsafely and rotting planks criss-crossed the gaping windows in an attempt to prevent curious children playing inside.

Red LionOther houses in The Square were fast disappearing: next to The Red Lion pub a cottage facing the road was knocked down to make way for a new car park for the pub. Behind it a whole row had gone, including the village bake house, where once the village people had taken their Sunday joint to be cooked, if they had one.

At the top end of the village behind Orchard Cottage a wheelwright’s workshop and cottages had been abandoned and left to fall down since there was no reason for anyone to buy them when their owners moved to Banbury. Derelict properties, overgrown with elderberry trees and other shrubs littered our village. Indeed the old were not far wrong when they said Horley was not half the village that it had been.

The Impact of the two World Wars – It was more than the changes in farming which changed our village life – the wars affected almost every aspect of our community. The loss of young Horley men in WWI maimed families and the community, and the experience of the trenches and fighting left many of the survivors scarred for life.

WWII came only 23 years later, and war-weary fathers saw their sons and young neighbours called up for duty in one or other of the armed services, and leave the village.

 The Evacuees and other Strangers –The war years saw influxes of strangers. I doubt the country, including Horley, had experienced such a mass movement of people. There were several waves of London evacuees that needed accommodating. Local airfields at Shenington and Gaydon brought new blood in the form of RAF personnel. Later, American airmen appeared in Banbury from a large American base in Upper Heyford. And from 1941 Horley experienced another wave of new people when Horley House was requisitioned to accommodate Prisoners-of-War (POWs). The Italians were the first to arrive followed by the Germans. Finally came the Displaced Persons, all lone men, from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, I believe.

Agricultural mechanisation – In our time fewer and fewer men chose, or were needed, to work on the land. There had been pointers for many years before the outbreak of war that farming was in decline. The introduction of new methods and more sophisticated machinery continued the pattern already developing, and farms became less labour intensive.

Conditions and pay were better in industry and the importance of the multi-skilled farm labourer diminished as mechanisation took over on the farm. And so the rural culture died. The harvests although important were no longer the only topic of conversation of the summer months, and the Harvest Home (or Harvest Festival), though still an occasion, was no longer a celebration of a good harvest that was critical to the well-being and health of the whole community in the following months.

Traditional ways of life were vulnerable to these changes. It was not just the effects of war that challenged the traditions. With the importance of the Aluminium Works in Banbury, and the Ironstone workings in Wroxton, the next village, there was a choice of employment, improved wages and an opportunity for advancement.

With greater control of their employment and changes in the distribution of wealth, the days of the village hierarchy and power structure were almost ended.

Thatched roofs – It was during the post-war period and 1950s that roofs which had previously been thatched were tiled. The village lost a lot of its soft curved appearance for a more angular but tidier look.

Mains water comes use to horley 195The Arrival of Electricity, Water and The Main Drain – Electricity came to the village. Amidst heated controversy five street lights were installed. Then the Church, the School and the Chapel put lights on their buildings. In a very short space of time we had become a 10-light safety-conscious village. But the most significant change that dramatically affected everybody’s life was the coming of mains water and mains sewerage. The process was drawn out and the village reduced to chaos for long periods. The work continued for so long that people began to talk of a Golden Age when Horley had been a beautiful place to behold, but in truth, however untidy the earthworks were, Horley had never been a chocolate-box village.

When the project was complete and pipes connected the work in the home for both men and women was greatly reduced and life became easier and pleasanter. Within a short time the village cottages became desirable residences. The risks to health had been significantly reduced. But with the benefits of these state funded services came dilemmas. Cllr George Pratt and his colleagues on the Rural District Council were faced with ethical issues about the proper level of state intervention when they considered the proposal to put fluoride in the water to improve the health of teeth, whether people wanted it or not.

A Better Britain – Regenerating Horley

As the course of the war began to reach its conclusion there was growing recognition that after the disruption and hardship of war people both wanted and deserved better. It was felt that those returning from war had earned their place in a ‘Better Britain’. The Beveridge Report called for national welfare systems that would protect us all ‘from the cradle to the grave’, and the Labour Government of 1945 brought it about.

Inevitably the scene was set for changes, and from those returning from the war certain individuals came forward to take a lead. George Pratt was, in the post war years responsible for promoting many of the practical developments that took place in Horley. Having in the early years of the war organised the Home Guard in the area, he had spent the latter years of the war serving as an Army Officer abroad. It gave him opportunities to see a bit of the world, and a great deal of life away from the confines of his previous experience, as well as being able to reflect on the future possibilities that life in Horley held. He valued community life, and his commitment to serve his fellow parishioners was heightened by his experiences of war. On his return he found others returning from war were of like mind – those that had left as boys returned as men with new perspectives on life and they were keen to make the most of the peace.

In the years immediately after the war our community – dying though its traditions were – had a brief reprieve. Village life underwent a period of energetic regeneration as the moves to get Britain back on its feet were felt everywhere. One of the first institutions to establish itself was the Horley Cricket Club. It proclaimed its establishment by acquiring its own cricket-field. Glyn Morgan the Vicar had realised that a cricket team and/or a football team could be a unifying, purposeful and enjoyable activity for the community especially for young men. George Pratt, a natural leader, rallied a cricket team, and before long the Club built its own pavilion. Our father, Glyn Morgan laid the pavilion’s foundation stone on a wet Coronation Day in the summer of 1953.

Apart from the Cricket Club there was still a Pig Club, a thriving Youth Club run by a series of people including George Green of Midhill, and a Mothers’ Union that met on the first Tuesday in each month in The Vicarage sitting room with an interesting speaker. The Church Choir, run by Matt Blythe, had choir practice early on Friday evenings. A strong contingent of men belonged to the British Legion, which met outside the village, and there was a Girls’ Club. In addition to this there were the meetings of the Parochial Church Council (the PCC), the Parish Council and the School Managers.

Secondary Education – t was a period of advance. From January 1948 for the first time Horley’s young people over 11 received their education outside the village. It must have been a wise and timely development and expanded the educational curriculum, but it also weakened the village socially and there was less commitment to village activities and relationships, as young people widened their friendship networks, and increasingly spent their leisure time outside the village.

Abandoned Untidiness to Village pride

The piles of stones from its derelict houses gave Horley an air of abandoned untidiness. It was still a working village so there were always reminders of the herds of cow that passed through the village several times a day, as well as clods of earth or straw that had fallen from carts and tractors. During the winter the village was a great deal tidier than in the summer when the grass grew high along the verges of the roads into the village and down the sides of the main street. The Council made some provision for the grass to be cut by roadman Charley Varney, but he liked to collect it once it was ripe for hay that he could use in the winter, so he had a vested interest in waiting until it was ready. Our village had a certain overgrown charm during these summer months.

Flowering cherries were planted from The Square down to Phlox Cottage. This was part of the 1953 Coronation celebrations and was very new for Horley. It proved very difficult to stop the boys swinging on the saplings and accidentally breaking them – they did not seem to belong to anyone in particular, and were counted fair game. But after a few years the trees became established and eventually flowered. People were surprised and pleased with them and the first step had been taken to open our eyes to the way we wanted our village to look.

Vestiges of a Feudal Society

There was a clear class divide: the war softened its manifestations to some extent, but it was evident, and it depended on where you were in the hierarchy whether you minded or not. Robert Pearson writes:

‘The covertly oppressive nature of the hierarchical nature of society peculiar to Britain was, of course, fissured to some extent by the First World War (1914-1918) and shattered by the Second World War (1939-1945).’

The nature of village hierarchies meant that most formal leadership roles had long been the responsibility, possibly privilege, of the middle classes (squire, Vicar, any landowner, large farmers and sometimes teachers) – people with some money or influence. A good deal of village problem-solving and philanthropy was expected of them, and mostly they responded. It is easy to see how very dependent most communities had been on the prosperity of these better-off families to generate work and maintain law and order. Working families hitting hard times relied on their charity in the absence of any welfare state. Any lack of commitment, or absence, or failure to act benevolently could make life difficult for the village. Although jealously guarded, these roles were not always diligently filled and that lead to grumbling by discontented people.

When things went wrong people complained until the Vicar, or someone the equivalent of the squire did something to correct the situation. Even after all they had given during the wars, older village people still did not feel a sense of power or equality and continued to behave as if the squire, who no longer existed, should run village affairs. Some referred to their ‘betters’ and a few nervously said ‘I know my place’. However as the village squirearchy vanished and was superseded by the Rural District Council, the phrase “You’d think Mr Stockton/the Vicar would do something about it” was replaced by “Why don’t the Council do anything about it?”

There were several factors which may have contributed to subsequent change such as ready access to their elected Councillor, improved complaints systems, and most importantly, the increasing availability of home telephones enabling some people to take matters into their own hands.

The New Council Houses. In the early nineteen fifties the Rural District Council planned to build some new houses in Horley. It was part of the National Housing Programme to improve living conditions, and all over the country new council housing estates were springing up. The new houses were to have both bathrooms and modern kitchens, and most important of all they were not accommodation tied to a job as were many of the homes in the village. The new council houses were built just off the Big Lane, below Park Farm, in what was to become Lane Close.

Before the new council houses were built, Lane Close was a small narrow meadow that we had to cross to reach the cricket field. The announcement that twelve new homes were to be built there – ten semi-detached houses and two bungalows came as an exciting surprise because it meant a great deal of brand new accommodation for some lucky people. There was speculation as to who would eventually live there, and who deserved to. We all examined the houses as they went up. My mother feared they looked very small inside, and there appeared to be no front doors, but it was very difficult to imagine amid the wet mud what they would eventually look like. When the day came and the allocation of houses was announced one of the new homes went to Maurice, and later another to Dennis Jelfs, Fred Jelfs’ sons, who both had young families. They left tiny terraced cottages in Varney’s Yard (now Ivy Cottage).

The Greens with four children Reggie, Doreen, Lawrence and Carol who had always lived in the village moved from their cramped little cottage (the further of the two cottages which became Midhill). They and other families moved home by carrying all their furniture and goods bit by bit from one home to the other. The children took a major part in the move and trundled handcarts up and down the village lane between the two houses. The mixture of excitement and physical exhaustion took their toll by the end of the day. One teenager burst into tears when a pot of jam slipped from her grasp and broke. Her tears mixed with the rain in The Square by the telephone kiosk. My mother, Elma Morgan, coming out of the Post Office found it impossible to console her: the weather was awful, it was late in the day, everyone was tired and the precious pot of jam was what she had bought as a treat for tea.

The Hicks family was given a house too and they were able to move from the damp deteriorating Jasmine Cottage into the real comfort of a brand new home. When our father, Glyn Morgan the Vicar, visited them to see how they were settling in, a joyful George Hicks flung open the front door, extended his arms as though to embrace him and welcomed him in with a dramatic flourish. With great pride George bade him “Come into the drawing room, Vicar”.

The rest of Lane Close also seemed pleased with their front rooms, but it was not long before the gilt on the gingerbread began to wear thin. Not all the houses had gone to Horley people. The Wrights at Number 1 Lane Close were Londoners by origin but had not returned after the war and had some difficult experiences in the early days in Horley. Their neighbours the Hemmings were a Hornton family and would have much preferred to stay there. The people with only two bedrooms would rather have had more, the doors stuck in the wet weather, and nobody much liked the Rayburn stoves that had been installed in the living room by an unimaginative/over-imaginative architect on the grounds that country people had been used to kitchen ranges and would therefore welcome a similar sort of heating and means of cooking. Nonetheless the gardens soon began to bloom, and with exceptions were all kept in glorious order.

The children from the new families swelled the numbers attending Horley School, and combined with the post-war baby boom known as ‘the bulge’ ensured the survival of the school for another generation.

The rest of this volume and part of volume two are about the families who experienced the changes in our village during this period.

[2] 392 residents in 1851 and 425 residents in 1841

Clare Marchant, June 2015

Clare MarchantThe is an extract from A Vanished Past Volume 1, each Volume is £15 +P&P  or you can buy both for £33 incl. p&p.

They are available directly from Clare , Shaftesbury House, 15 Circus Street, Greenwich, London SE10 8SN or marchantclare@hotmail or call on 020 8858 8529. Cheques payable to Clare Marchant.

Clare Marchant was born in Horley Vicarage, Oxfordshire in 1941 and spent her formative years there until 1965. She now lives in Greenwich, London

First published in 2015. All rights reserved. The rights of Clare Marchant to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the consent of © Clare Marchant.  Copyright for each image rests with the contributor.

A Vanished Past – Time of Change (1 of 3)

A Vanished Past – Vol.1 –  A Time of Change (1 of 3)

 The 1920s and 1930s Robert Pearson wrote elegantly about his childhood for his children:

‘My boyhood years, in the 1920s and 1930s, were not all that far removed from the late 19th century, extraordinary as that seems now that we are in the 21st century, and village life then reflected this in many ways. The importance of the church and the Vicar in village life; the squire (country gentleman and major landowner); people of independent means; local tradespeople, and what could be classified loosely as ‘working people’. It was a society set in aspic – how things had been for hundreds of years, little affected by the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries when centres of manufacture had, with mechanisation, been transformed. In the towns so affected, the links with the past had been largely severed, so there was this dichotomy between these places and rural areas which has taken many decades to develop some kind of equilibrium. But not for much longer would rural areas remain unaffected. Generally speaking, rural areas nowadays, except the most remote, enjoy most of the facilities available to town and city dwellers – and certainly essential ones.’

A Time of Change By Honor Berry and Clare Marchant

When we were young the oldest people in our village could remember back as far as the 1880s. They recalled how they had coped with the difficulties of wars (always fought far away), varying weather conditions, and epidemics. During their childhoods change had come to the village slowly. The old men and women had seen the drift of people away from the village into the towns with the improvements in the efficiency of farm implements. They had witnessed a revolution in transport and felt the influences of a number of new inventions, but even if their generation had all received compulsory schooling, which their forebears had not, the way of life of many people, although improving, was not so very different from a hundred years before.

Traditionally the working-men of Horley laboured on the farms. Some were in domestic service along with the women. All were beholden to the handful of middle-class families in the village, the landowners who employed them, and they worked long arduous hours in poor conditions for low wages.

Bagnall and EnglandAfter a life-time working on the land in all weathers, the men looked old once they had reached their sixties. The leather gaiters that they wore marked them out as belonging to a different age from ours. The women fared rather worse. If they had not adopted the modern ways with ‘perms’ and hair-colouring, their hair became grey and wispy and was normally twisted back into a bun. But the most telling sign of age was the loss of teeth: older people were toothless though they had an immaculate set of false teeth recognisable by their whiteness and regularity, which were often so uncomfortable they were only worn on special occasions. Restricted diets in the past had not made strong bones and elderly people in our village suffered a good deal of lumbago, arthritis, rheumatism and chest complaints. Nonetheless they had learned to be hardy and lived stoically with illness and disease.

To us as children in the 1940s the village and its people seemed as though it had been like that forever. Changes seemed very few and very slow, but we did not understand that we were a generation with different expectations and we did expect things would get better after the war. However, we could never have envisaged in our wildest dreams quite how far our lives would change and how comfortable we would become.

horley-the-village-c1955_h234002_large copy right @the francis frith collectionBy 1950 Horley along with all the other villages in the country was beginning to feel the influence of social and economic change and development that would finally see the end of the working village. The change while it brought undoubted benefits that made everyday living more comfortable, was quicker than any previously experienced. The elderly remarked on it constantly and told us that the alteration was so complete that nothing remained the same. We found this hard to understand. The village looked to us as if it had not changed for decades. There were no new buildings other than the six Old Council Houses that had been built between the wars, and the four Manor Cottages that replaced the thatched cottages destroyed by fire. Most houses still had no electricity, no running water and no sewerage system. But it was not that which they were talking about. The loss they felt was of the village society, for they had witnessed the almost total disintegration of a thriving agricultural community, and had we understood the significance of the evidence available to us, we could have seen that there was plenty to support their claims.

The Old Mill & Mrs Highham use collection of Maureen Banks

Mrs Higham of 5 The Old Council Houses fetching milk with The Mill (in the background)

The main period of this book, 1940-65, was the end of an era.The Second World War delayed progress for a while. In the 1940s our milk still came warm from the cows, unpasteurised, in a churn or bucket and at the door was ladled out into the jugs or cans housewives provided. Horses were still used in the fields. At harvest time men came home from work in Banbury or on the Ironstone, had their dinner/tea and then went to help harvesting until, even with double summer-time[1], the dusk settled over the countryside. I remember waking up as the harvesters went past The Vicarage singing. Older women still went gleaning at harvest time, families went sticking (gathering firewood), and men went ferreting to catch rabbits for family consumption.

Decay seemed to lie all around us. There was not much building in the years after the war for there were not the materials or the money – indeed building was forbidden without a licence. After the prisoners of war had left Horley House, and the sad, Displaced Persons found a job, Horley House which had once been the main house in the village, lay unoccupied and increasingly dilapidated, the drive closed in by overgrown laurels. Bought at a knock-down price (no-one could afford the cost of keeping large houses), the lead tanks in the attics were removed by the Banbury building company that had bought it and sold for scrap.

Horley Mill Race John Saunders courtesy Patching TrusteesIt was during the immediate post-war period that the unused mill was reduced to one storey and the stone used for a house in Alkerton. A crowd gathered one sunny afternoon to see the upper storeys being taken down. At this time Horley was very poor. It was a period when some people were forced to mend holes in windows with sacking stuffed with straw; when thatch was patched and paint peeled from windows and front doors, and paint, if available, was black, dark green or brown, giving the village a severe and sombre aspect.

The nearby Oxfordshire Ironstone Company offered welcome alternatives to farm labouring and thrived during the Second World War and 1950s, then declined and suddenly closed in the late 60s. As a consequence more men had to look outside the village to seek work in Banbury or become self-employed.

Socially it was a different time with different values and ways of doing things. Although there were fewer and fewer people working on the land, the vast majority of people came from agricultural families either in Horley or in other villages. So we saw ourselves as an agricultural village. Culturally we inherited all sorts of assumed rights. There was an unspoken and unchallenged belief that farmers managed the land, but the countryside belonged to everyone. For our part we shut gates, walked around the edge of fields with hay or other crops, and did not allow dogs to chase cattle or sheep. I never appreciated the great freedom I had wandering over the fields, playing in the ponds and spinneys. It was my world. No mobile telephones for my parents to keep tabs on me. I never considered it would ever be otherwise.

Living in a small community could be intense and feelings could run high leading to hurt pride and angry disagreements that were never resolved. But there were also deep friendships which stood the test of time.

The village was also divided by those who went to Chapel or to Church – some people went to both at different times, and some went to neither.

Coming up in part 2 and 3:

  • Changes in Health provision
  • Entertaining
  • Walks
  •  The decline of the village
  • The Impact of the two World Wars
  •  The Evacuees and other Strangers
  • Agricultural mechanisation
  • Thatched roofs
  • The Arrival of Electricity, Water and The Main Drain
  • A Better Britain – Regenerating Horley
  • Secondary Education
  • Abandoned Untidiness to Village pride
  • Vestiges of a Feudal Society
  • The New Council Houses

Clare Marchant, June 2015

Clare MarchantThe is an extract from A Vanished Past Volume 1, each Volume is £15 +P&P  or you can buy both for £33 incl. p&p.

They are available directly from Clare , Shaftesbury House, 15 Circus Street, Greenwich, London SE10 8SN or marchantclare@hotmail or call on 020 8858 8529. Cheques payable to Clare Marchant.

Clare Marchant was born in Horley Vicarage, Oxfordshire in 1941 and spent her formative years there until 1965. She now lives in Greenwich, London

First published in 2015. All rights reserved. The rights of Clare Marchant to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the consent of © Clare Marchant.  Copyright for each image rests with the contributor.

[1] Clocks were two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, so darkness fell after 10pm


A Vanished Past – The Cowman

Mr and Mrs Gardner

Red LionNext door to The Red Lion pub was a tall thin building which was strangely out of place amongst the lower thatched houses of the village. It looked as though it had been squeezed onto a small patch of land.

However this is where the friendly elderly Mr and Mrs Gardner lived in the 1940s.

I remember Mr Gardner as cowman at Manor Farm. He milked all the cows by hand in the cowsheds at the side of The Vicarage kitchen garden, where he allowed us to watch him, at a distance. He sat on a small three-legged stool.

Like most men working with animals he wore leather gaiters, and like most countrymen who worked on the land he moved at a steady, even pace all day long.

The house was later pulled down.

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.


A Vanished Past – Introduction

Now and then ………… as we rush about in our busy lives, why not take a few minutes this weekend, grab a coffee and read the Introduction to A Vanished Past. Think about life now and consider life then in Horley with this mid 20th century perspective: 

Wroxton Hill Oct 2015 Horley Clare Marchant Vol 1

This book is one of four volumes about Horley in the mid 20th century, mainly using the medium of photographs. It has been an enthralling and at times frustrating journey with some epic qualities – the intention and purpose changed, the route changed, and every time I thought the end was in view it was a mirage.  The 23 years of my life in Horley provided me with exceptionally rich formative experiences. I daily draw on experiences of sounds, sights and smells, and in particular I watch the seasonal changes. More important is the knowledge I gained of people, their tragedies, achievements, interpersonal relationships and values. They influenced the person I am today. Somebody asked me why I was doing this detailed work. Two reasons: the Horley we knew in the post second world war period has vanished and I thought there should be a record of it, and the people. I also wanted to leave a record of the part our family played in those 24 years.

I was brought up in Horley Vicarage. Living in The Vicarage was like living in a busy customer service office: there were people ringing at the front door, knocking at the back door, phoning, occasionally at the same time, and bundles of letters arriving daily. It felt to me as though we were at the centre of this small world. The rapid way in which my three sisters and I had to leave The Vicarage and Horley on the unexpected death of our father just after Christmas 1964 was shocking. We lost both our parents in rapid succession, and also our home, the community where we had our roots, and our friends and connections in Horley and the Banbury area. I thought we were like the seeds of a dandelion blown to the four quarters of the world. My sister Shân recently said that we were like bits of flotsam thrown about in a storm we could not control. We were given three months notice to leave The Vicarage and by Easter 1965 we had left the village.

Although this was intended to be a short book about the years 1941 to 1965 it has some material from both earlier and later times when it seemed interesting and also relevant to the life we knew. Horley as I knew it had a before and an after. Glimpses of those times put my period in context.

The greatest source of photographs has been the vast chest kept by Alice (Saunders) Bowmaker of her father’s work. John Saunders was a professional photographer of country life and family life. It means that we have some lovely stills of the Horley countryside originally destined for publication in periodicals. The quality of the original was fine. I have worked from tiny proofs, so they are not as quite as clear as John’s beautiful originals.

There are an even greater number of photographs of children playing, cooking, at school, and at leisure involving his own children, and quite a number of other children willing to put aside an hour or more to wait around (sometimes in the cold or wet) while John Saunders got his angle and light meter sorted out. They are sometimes idealised images. Should I leave them in or take them out? In the end I decided that even though they have been posed they also show some aspects of our life of which we would not otherwise have a record.

My greatest regret is that there are few photographs of the interiors of our homes. Nor is there much photographic record of the ordinary everyday activities that filled our time and which have changed so dramatically over the last 50 years: the daily chores of fetching or pumping water, laying fires, clearing and disposing of ashes, chopping sticks with an axe, breaking lumps of coal with a hammer, sieving the slack out, shovelling the coal into buckets, ensuring lamps were filled with oil and the wicks primed, keeping our homes clean without electric vacuums, washing all sheets and clothes by hand, managing the privies, or the routines of producing our food: looking after the hens, the pig, growing and harvesting vegetables and storing them for the winter, and picking a variety of fruit and preserving them in different ways.

There were whist drives, dances, chapel anniversaries, harvest festivals, fancy dress competitions, prize-givings, school plays and a whole panoply of special church services – but no-one even thought of recording them. Cameras were a rarity and a luxury. I have not come across any diaries of the period.

We have the wrong impression if we think that the village population was static. There were some families that had their roots in the 19th century Horley and several for much longer, but any glance through the censuses of the 19th century reveals a constantly changing community.

We, the people who live or lived in Horley are part of a pattern of successive waves. We make Horley our home, play a part in the community, take ownership of the houses and land and make it our own for a time. Afterwards little remains of our existence there, or indeed of the un-named people that were there before us. The movement of population has been dramatic in the last 50 years – a speeded-up version of earlier change but so radical that continuity rests with less than a handful of people and memories have been lost. This book may help to redress this imbalance a little.

Hornton Hill Oct 2015 Horley Clare Marchant Vol 2The first and second volume in this series concentrate on people; the third and fourth volumes focus on what we did in school, work, play and war.

I wanted to recreate the web of everyday life rather than the stuff of minutes or formal records, and to hint at the complicated society to which we all made some contribution.

I have consulted where possible and have valued comments and contributions from many. For the final decisions, the omissions and errors, the author is responsible and asks for the readers’ understanding.

Clare Marchant, June 2015

Clare MarchantThe is an contents extract from all volumes of A Vanished Past, each Volume is £15 +P&P  or you can buy both Volumes 1 & 2 for £33 incl. p&p.

They are available directly from Clare , Shaftesbury House, 15 Circus Street, Greenwich, London SE10 8SN or marchantclare@hotmail or call on 020 8858 8529. Cheques payable to Clare Marchant.

Clare Marchant was born in Horley Vicarage, Oxfordshire in 1941 and spent her formative years there until 1965. She now lives in Greenwich, London

First published in 2015. All rights reserved. The rights of Clare Marchant to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the consent of © Clare Marchant.  Copyright for each image rests with the contributor.