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The Fernhurst Society

Tales from the Archives - 3

No Bed of Roses at Verdley Place

Arthur Hooper came to work as a foreman gardener for Sir Felix Schuster at Verdley Place in the 1920s and gives a lively account of the time he spent there in his book ‘Life in the Gardeners’ Bothy’. The bothy was a small flat above the potting shed, which was shared by four gardeners. Because working hours were so long, there was a bothy lady who cooked and cleaned for them as well as doing their washing. No-one went out in the evening as it was two miles to the nearest pub so the four gardeners clubbed together to get a wireless set. Arthur was put in charge of the six lean-to glasshouses, 30 coldframes as well as other areas. Sir Felix and his daughter were hard taskmasters, whose gimlet eyes missed nothing.

Arthur was working in the vinery one morning when he heard Miss Schuster calling him. He walked to where she was standing. ‘When I call you,’ she said, ‘you will run to me as quickly as possible’. Sir Felix decided to have an economy drive and cut wages, the bothy’s coal allowance, restricted the amount of vegetables they could have and free fruit was not allowed at all. About this time the head gardener had bought himself a little second hand car.

Sir Felix was outraged and would not allow him to drive it or even park it on the estate. The poor man had to sell the car without even driving it!

Three months later Arthur moved on to a happier position.

If you would like to know more about this story, or research other local topics, the Archive is open on Tuesdays, 2.30-5pm in the Village Hall. Other times by arrangement.

Christine Maynard
Fernhurst Archive

One of a series of short articles bringing you some of the incidents from our rich village history. Collated by Christine Maynard, based on documents preserved at the Fernhurst Archives, these originally were published in the monthly Fernhurst News.

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