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The Fernhurst Society

Oral history interviews: social conditions

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Stanley Clue | Maureen Duke | Mercy Gandy | Olive Gilbert | Frank Jones | Colin Lambert | George Larbey | Brian Silver |
Darrel Stirling | Poppie Upperton | Alf West | Jeffrie White | Lillian White

Stanley Clue

When we moved from Didling over to Fernhurst, I was two years and four months.  I remember that journey.

That’s astounding, that really is astounding.

People won’t believe me. Father came along with his mate, two horses and a wagon, loaded the furniture up.  Mother and grandmother, they loaded the pram up, the old mail cart with two big wheels and two littl’uns, you know, parked me in the front and on the top of me, they parked the paraffin lamp.  It had a great big pink bottle as big as that; and the sun was beautiful.  When we got to Midhurst, they had a job to push the pram – it was snowing.  They couldn’t get anybody to pick them up and give them a cab or anything.  They had to struggle all the way, and when Dad got to Cooksbridge, they had to pull into a yard on the left, because the horses couldn’t pull the wagon down the hill, for snow.  They had to go down the next day with two more horses to pull them up.  We only had to come up the Midhurst Road.  I was at Woodfold 4 or 5 days with my mother.  I remember that as if it were only yesterday.



Maureen Duke

I specifically remember going to Percy Bridger’s at Hawksfold Farm and I used to be taken to Hawksfold House after church on Sundays and meeting all those worthies of Fernhurst who collected their glass of sherry. Occasionally we would go to the White House at the back of the Church where Sir John Daniell lived and he endeared himself to me by taking me to his study and giving me two squares of Cadbury’s chocolate. It’s wonderful how you can win children’s affections…

Anyway during wartime ..we were free to roam all round the place.  We were enormously lucky – I particularly, because I am amazed at the freedom I was given. As long as I was home and indoors for meals nothing else was put upon me.  During my early childhood in Hampshire I had had a nanny and was brought up in that situation of having a nanny with a day nursery and a night nursery and so on but once I was six or seven and Nanny left. By that time my parents and family had not learned that children needed to be nurtured or cared for and I was allowed to be wild – not in the sense of criminality but I could do what I wanted. Can you imagine now for instance having breakfast and running down through the copse out along, what is now Park Lane, into Nappers Wood to where the charcoal burners were. The charcoal burners used to arrive once every ‘x’ number of years to make charcoal and they worked their way up from that area right up to Marley. They must have had enormous patience with a ten year old at that time and I still have a pack of charcoal which has in my granny’s hand on it ‘Maureen’s charcoal’ so I can make charcoal in the old way with the big cylinders and I remember how they packed the wood and so on.  So I feel that I had a very privileged childhood in that I was allowed to roam and to mix and to do all the things that I liked to do.

This launched me into Fernhurst society as it were as an older teenager. I think that during the post-war period there was a wonderful rejuvenation of the social system because during my childhood of course there was stratification of society an ‘us and them’ if you like.  It never bothered me because I always found that below stairs was really much more friendly and got better fed and altogether my friends were always those who were there.  Bearing in mind the several families to which I was related they had their own friends, the Tudor family for instance, and the Tudor family is immense and sort of Dear Octopus – there are just a lot of them.  I knew them – I don’t think I ever knew or met Owen Tudor although I know his portrait – with the big black beard and the skullcap – so well that I almost think I have.  Certainly I knew Hearts Delight very well – I used to go down there to meet and play and have tea with Miss Catherine and Miss Alice.  Miss Catherine used to feed us so well – gave us lovely teas and Miss Alice had a drawer full of children’s toys which I suppose were Victorian children’s toys – there were sort of marionettes and bouncy balls and all sorts of things. 

Years later another sister – Lil – who we called Aunt Lil came – Miss Alice and Miss Catherine died and Aunt Lil took over.  She worked in London so she came and took into village life – she became secretary of the Village Hall and various things.  As the social system changed and progressed so as a one-man band I had chosen to be a bookbinder and to learn that craft at college…..  I had a bindery in the garden and began to work for myself. This gave me as a self-employed person in a way a privileged situation again, in that whilst I could work in the evenings and early mornings I could take time off and as such was able to keep in contact with all sorts of people that I otherwise might not have done…. Harry Wells used to come and do our garden – I think one or two days a week – Walter Wells, his brother also gardened, but for some of the bigger houses and looking at this page from the Lurgashall Crossroads book I’m reminded of this anecdote about Walter Wells.  Walter Wells, who I think may have been employed by the Schusters at Verdley, used to come to my grandfather’s surgery, perhaps once a week or once a fortnight to collect a bottle of medicine for Sir Felix and this bottle of medicine was I believe red or pink – possibly tasted rather nasty – but was to a great extent a placebo.  The only problem with Walter collecting the bottle of medicine was that he often used to stop at the Red Lion on his way back to deliver this and the story goes that my grandfather, having handed him the bottle of medicine, handed him a glass and said ‘and this is your medicine Walter’ – I suspect it was a small scotch – and Walter then went straight home with the medicine.



Mercy Gandy

 I look back with happy memories of those days, how well one remembers the glowing wood fire on the open hearth or down fireplace as it was called.  You could look up the chimney and see the sky.  All baking was done in the brick oven heated by bavins, an iron crane complete with iron hooks from which hung kettles and caldron; dog irons shaped like human figures held the logs.  Pigs were slaughtered twice a year, some joints hung in the chimney on iron hooks, some salted in a huge crock.  The pig killing stool was at Vanlands for many years.  There are vivid memories too of butter making days.  The wooden churn turned by hand, the butter washed with water from the well, salted and patted into shape with wooden patters.  Haymaking days, market days, all lovely memories.
All these things you’ve been describing are they your memories over the period when you started coming to Vanlands in the 20s?

Yes and at one time they had no fireplace at all only the down fireplace; we used to come to breakfast and rashers were put on griddles and they used to sizzle, that was their only means of cooking.  Then after many years they had a little black iron range.

Do you remember when that was installed – was it in the 30s?

It was quite late and many times, every Friday morning I used to have to clean the flues out.  Then when I was married in 1947 my husband thought it was so dreadful for me to have to battle with this horrible thing and get covered with soot that he bought a Rayburn which was £40 in those days.  Of course it did not heat the water, we had no hot water still the cold tap.



Olive Gilbert

And the family lived in this very nice cottage next to the Post Office which is pictured in Brian Silver’s book?  Can you describe the house at all?  Now there was a well?

Yes.  Yes.  There was a well.  It’s not now.  It was taken away.

Now did you use that for…?

Yes, for drinking, for everything, for washing and that and I had to get it and carry it around you know, had to carry it around the side of the house, through the house for doing your washing in the out-house behind us, and that, and it was used for everything.  Yes.

And did other people use it…?

It was lovely water. Better than what it is now.

Did everyone have a well?

No, one between three houses.  Yes, they all had to come and get their water there.

… get their water from this well?

Yes, ….. water.

Can you describe the house inside?

It’s not much.  It’s still the same.  Well you go up and into the front door and there’s one big room.  I remember it because it had a lovely big table in there and when I haven’t got enough room in here I think of my mother’s big table.  We played games on it and all and … how do you call it … Ping Pong, playing cards and all that.  And we always sat….  And it was this lovely big table.  I wish I had one like it.  … and then there were the stairs going up from the sitting room, but not that room.  And then there were three bedrooms upstairs.  They ran into one another.  Always had to go through mother’s room, father’s room, into the back room and into a smaller one.  And then downstairs there was another room.  The scullery, as we called it – the back room….  And there again, they had to use the water, but later on the water was laid on.

When would that have been?  In your time there? As a girl there?

It must have been in my mother’s time anyway.

Where was the cooking done?

In the scullery.  Of course, first off, they had an old black cooker and then afterwards they had a little Rayburn put in and she did her ironing and …

Very hard work

It was.  And the washing.  I remember how hard.  It was a day’s work to do the washing, you know.  And the ironing the next day. But she was very particular about it.  And they used the old  … big flat irons  - they make good door stops you know, if you’ve got one.

Very collectible today.

Yes…  And then the toilet was a day’s march up the garden.  And we used to have to go up there ‘cos there was no light, electricity in the village then.  And I used to make my sister go first.  We had a lantern with a candle inside.  But she was younger than me and I used to make her go – and she had to go in.  Go up there before – while I was up there.  The funniest part through the war time was we got bombed up there and I know we had to take somebody with us if we went up there, you know, ‘cos it had blown the door off.  …….. Next door had one just below us and they had a little one and a bigger one in together, which was handy for us  when we didn’t fit as children…..

Did you all live there together, nine of you…

No, cos the others, the others were older than me. I was one of the younger ones.  I was number eight.

Were there any other families living nearby?

Um.  There was Larbey next door to us.

The Larbeys?

There were about nine of them … growing up.  We never quarrelled or anything.  We seemed to get along very well.  He was the village blacksmith.  And the amusing thing about him was he was very short but he got these carthorses and got right underneath them you know, and lifted their hooves up.  They looked big enough for them.  And being children we used to say ….what is the nursery rhyme?  The smith, a smallish man is he, with small and spinney arms.  I think we made up a rhyme about him.  But they were very good people.

Do you remember any of the other families in Fernhurst at that time, when you were growing up?

The Post Office was next door to us.  Do you want to hear about those?


There was a Mr. Smith first.  Mr. Smith and his daughter.

Who ran the Post Office?

Yes, Yes, he was a schoolmaster.  Postmaster.  He was there for several years; I don’t know quite how long he was there.  They used to run it.  And they also had in my time they had the teacher that taught the infants’ at school, staying there.  Living there with them.  You know, they were into everything.  And Mrs. Howells, well they were all in the village.  There are several pictures in that book, I think of him. 

Now you mentioned earlier when I was talking to you about the pig killing.

Oh yes.

Now can you describe that?

The pig killing.  We all had a shed outside where my mother had to do her washing and everything in the big copper inside.  And we used to get all the rubbish from the Post Office – the papers and burn them up for them and get our water hot, you know, and then carry the water indoors.  And so we had this shed out there and we – the boys, after playing football we had a tin bath and we used to have to bath out in the woodshed.  They were …. Clean up. You know.  They had to go out there, one at a time to have their bath, and that.  Then of course mother had all the washing to do after the football.  I think she took some washing in - of the footballers – you know, cricketers and all that.  So she was a good washer.

So going back to the pig-killing?

So they had these pigs.  They usually had the pig-killing in Mrs. Larbey’s shed, and it was out, you know, it was nice and clean and they heated up the water. They also had a copper.  And then they used to – I think it was two men that used to come and kill the pigs and then they brought them in.  They had to, scrape them, I suppose, wouldn’t they, in the hot water and outside there was a big platform – a lovely place to play hop-scotch it was for us children – with a hole in the middle – it was good for marbles as well – and that, and the wheelwright’s shop was still there, it hadn’t been taken down then.  That was the wheelwright’s shop.  Well, they used to… put these iron bars.  Get a big bonfire going, it was lovely having this bonfire, put the iron part into the fire and then the men would pick them up with these irons, get them to the platform and the hole in the platform there would take the hub of it, you know, of the wheel.  And the hot water, we used to have hot water and they used to go round with water and as they were putting this on the wooden …. there, they had to water it, to cool it down and tap it and tap it and get these wheels for the big carts and things on to it.  We used to love that because afterwards in the ashes we used to cook potatoes, didn’t we. 

Lets get back again to these pigs.

Oh yes.

Did people have pigs?

Yes, most people had pigs.  They had chickens and that and people would give you the… always plenty of chickens because they always had what was over, you know, and  the vegetables, cos they all had a big garden each and that and then when they cut them up they had a bench… I can’t remember what they cut them up on.  But they cooked them, done them in joints and then people round would have them and well  then anybody else- they used to exchange a lot then.  But when mum done a pig you have it now and they used to, you know.  They were more ..what’s the word?


Yes, they were.  I mean, I remember the war going through and they used to,  you have a piece and next time you’d have a piece of theirs,  you see.

So the men who came to do it.  Would they have come from Haslemere? Or did they travel around the country?

I think they came from Henley, I think.  I can’t remember their names.  And they also, I remember, made ciderin the barrels.  I can’t remember much about it.  But they used to have the old cider apples.  I’d see them being crushed up.

How interesting.

That was when I was younger, you know.

I would have thought that stopped quite soon after…

Yes, yes, years ago.  It was the growing up part.

But you mentioned, too, when you were talking earlier, about your brother going to help put the fire out at Friday’s Hill House.

Yes I can just remember and that.  Cos we were younger, I remember we could see over the houses out of the buildings out on to that – we could see a bit of it – but mother wouldn’t let us go up so see what was going on.

That was 1925.

Was that 1925?  So how old was I then?  And Ted was one of the first ones to get up there for pulling up the carpets and things.

Your brother Ted?

… And things ..yes. Yes.

It was quite burnt out

Yes, yes

And it remained a shell for a long, long time.

Yes, it did.  It did.  Of course we were children then.  There were no telephones so much then, but they used to send telegrams.  And we used to go round delivering telegrams.  And we used to get … I think it was nine pence to go Henley.  I remember one day we went there and bought a drink and there wasn’t much left.  Years ago.  And then we used to go to Shulbrede quite a bit because of the telegrams, you see.  There wasn’t the ‘phones and that about.  And we used to go down there and I think it was an easy run for us ‘cos we all had old bikes.  To go there we used to get a shilling for that – for delivering the telegram. 

You walked there as well, did you … you would have walked and biked?

The road was a bit rough in those days.

What sort of bike would you have had?

Well I had …my first one was the schoolteacher’s.  My brothers they were all good at sort of mending things up, you know.  I remember once going down through Lord Riverdale’s, and I went with our neighbour, Harry Larbey, and we went there on our bikes and we saw this bull …and two men were leading it …

Do you remember the first bus service in Fernhurst?

I can just remember the bus first coming in and going out.  To see it going along.  I don’t know how old I was then, but I seem to remember, ‘cos they only went, I think to Haslemere and Midhurst, when they first came.  But I can’t remember much about them, although they used the buses as a charabanc, as we used to call them.  And go to those places, you know…. afterwards they went to Bognor….

So the bus wasn’t a bus service… I mean a service from either Midhurst or .... Not Burrows and Paine in those days?

It was Burrows and Paine.  For as long as I can remember.  They had the cars … and then they had a charabanc and they used to take the footballers and the cricketers and the guides and scouts camping.  And then take their stuff, you now, they always had.  They were always helpful people. And it was lovely for us because I think we were very lucky when I was a young girl because … if we went down to the sea, Bognor – oh, once a year we were very lucky.  But my brother having this lorry, they used to take us for rides in it.  We used to go down to the beach and have the whole bus for changing in and everything. 

And the village was probably very quiet then, I mean the main road.

Oh yes, they didn’t have many cars.

No, there were very few cars.

Very few cars.  But we were lucky because when they started with the buses, the lorries, we got taken out and about.

For outings.  These wonderful outings – it must have been,  to go to the seaside

Yes, we didn’t go very much it is true, but I remember they used to take us down and we were very lucky.  And my brothers, when they used to go out in the lorry they  used to take us children as we got older and pull up just where somebody’s garden was, so that we could see the garden.



Frank Jones

I helped with lights and special effects for the local amateur dramatic society, the Optimists.  Number 28 (Vann Road) was built in 1941, one of a string of simple cottages along the side of Vann Road which was previously called Chapel Street of course, due to a number of religious buildings in the street.  With a shortage of proper cement which was all grabbed by the military during the war, the house had to be built using local lime mortar and that particular substance is… it tends to flake out quite quickly over the years, and most of the cottages along here have now been completely rebuilt.  So for the first couple of years I would hear strains of hymns which were sung in the Ebenezer Chapel which was number 26.  And of course that was 1976/1977 but eventually their congregation drifted away and after that the building was stripped out for storage.  I had part of the pews used as a bench in our greenhouse when they cleared it out.  On our old deeds from 1901, we saw another building – a cobblers shop – where our driveway stands now, with only a bit of chalk and halfbricks used for the floor. 

Many items have been dug up around the garden.  There’s a big grinding stone and the little horseshoe-shaped iron heels from farmworkers’ hobnailed boots.  A selection of items have turned up in the back garden from the dump – people simply didn’t have dustbins in those days of course, so things would be dumped somewhere – all the ashes and everything else.  Some of the items – much sought after now.  Many of the items have their own amusing tales to tell.  You can see some of the bits we’ve dug out from the garden here of course – all the bottles and things like that.  One of the amusing ones is a carved piece of local stone, shaped as a sort of… like a roller.  Sid Dudman had a friend who had intended to make it into a lawn roller but as they carted the carved stone down Friday’s Hill, the cart tipped over from the heavy stone, which went tumbling and rolling down the hill on its own with two men chasing after it.  It’s funny to see old kitchen sinks which are now used of course for flowerpots and old iron garden rollers all rusted away artistically in the hedge and things like old mangles and treadles for a sewing machine frame, iron wheelbarrow wheels are found, gigantic saws which we showed you at the front, which of course are replaced by the chainsaws today, bicycle oil lanterns, shepherds crooks and numerous pottery and glass bottles for medicines. 

We found various things around the garden.  But of course I haven’t yet found any sort of Roman coins or anything like that around the village, so I don’t think there’s any Roman activity around here as far as I can see, but the metal detector really is only for a sort of narrow spectra of different things which you find.  Obviously pottery and specialised stuff like that – you need to use different equipment to find those, or else just be more patient and dig them up.  The little tiny medicine bottles there you see would have had corks in them and they’ve been used here, discarded and thrown under the hedge.  We found loads of things like that under the hedge, simply because they didn’t have dustbins in the early days you see to carry all the rubbish away . And oh yes, you see the bottle there with the little wooden piece… if you just grab that wooden piece off the top… yes that’s right… that’s a Cods bottle.   I think it was, designed by a Mr Cod or something originally.  This is obviously one of the local things.  Now they had a glass marble and a rubber ring which was put inside and the fizzy drink would be put into the bottle and as the thing came out, the little marble would seal itself.  So if you drunk a lot of lemonade from a Cod bottle, you needed something to push the marble down with, so of course there’s the boxwood tool to open your Cod’s bottle and push the marble down….
So obviously you go up to the local shop, buy your fizzy drink. Of course when I was small, Dad used to generously give me 3d a week for my pocket money, so I would cycle around in the countryside and pick up Bing bottles which were similar to this with a little springy bit on the top and take them along to the local shop, get 3d and go home with a lollipop.

When do these date from?  Do you know?  I mean it’s got Guildford on the side, printed on the side. 

Yes, it’s obviously from a local supplier you see.

I’ve never heard of these before, have you.

There’s lots of local suppliers.  I guess these are round about the turn of the century.  Bing bottles would have followed on somewhere after the 1920s onwards, but these would have been used during the previous century from somewhere round about Victorian days I would suppose.  I haven’t got really any accurate dates.  I haven’t got any books on these.  I really ought to get some, but there’s lots of them.  If you get that next little square bottle there.  There we are.  Now this is… Fizzy drinks were rather sought after and of course because of the pressure of gases and things like that, you couldn’t store an awful lot in big bottles like they do today, because bottles would explode… and on the side of this one it tells us that it is ‘the only genuine Day Son & Hewitts gaseous fluid, London’. 

That’s about… in pint terms, that’s about a fifth of a pint, I should think, isn’t it.  Less than that.

Here’s the stopper used on those bottles.  This is a little punty which would be held over the furnace, melting this.  It would be pressed onto a little mould and then taken off out of the furnace, cooled and then snapped off you see.  So all these were hand made and then snapped off from the little punty, and you can see the bit… and this would then have a rubber ring round it or even a cork ring on some of them and that would be then pushed into the bottle so it would seal itself nicely.  So there’s the little top.  You often find the bottles but unless you look carefully, you don’t always find the actual little stoppers which go with them.  How about that.

Any idea of the date?  Turn of the century?

Again I think that would have been in the late 1800s…



Colin Lambert

Can we go back to the beginning again – where were the premises?

We were opposite what is now Tavern Court.  Father rented it from Jimmy Cole – that’s Ron Cole’s father.  My grandmother had it – when there were nine children they took a bit of feeding – so they all had jobs. My father had four goats for the milk – his brothers had to help in the garden – he had the garden at the back of the house. Some of it, because there were three cottages there and she rented a bit out where the yard was and they had an allotment up there as well and they also had an allotment by Ropes Cottages (Grandfather Lambert) to supply the vegetables.  The old Spread Eagle was still there when father started. The new one (now pulled down) I think that was built in about 1936 and the vicarage was built behind our yard in 1938.  There wasn’t a house there.  Our yard was there then and I know it was so tight to get into the garage with the lorry – both width and lengthwise and if you were a fraction out you hit the door post . I think we had about half an inch to spare when we got them in there.  Lorries were not as wide then as now – the first long-wheelbase lorry we had (long nose one) it was that tight that when my Uncle Tommy borrowed it one day he pushed the front of the garage out and bent it – we could get it in then!!  On a frosty morning when the lorry wouldn’t start father had swung it and he couldn’t get in front of it and he was swinging it sideways and it started and he flew over and broke his thumb.

Was it called a garage?

Oh yes. Well it was called Yew Tree Garage (because a Yew Tree used to stand on the end of the yard there).  His brother, his oldest brother, was originally in partnership with Jimmy Cole in the newspaper business. They had what they called Yew Tree Garage and he used to repair buses and he used to sell petrol – because the odd car was about then and this was the only garage we had in Fernhurst and he used to sell it by the 5 gallon drum and he used to fill up from the drum.

Did you help your father out when you were at school?

Yes, I even had days off.  In 1944 I was still only 14. He was short of drivers , he couldn’t get chaps to help because all the fit ones were in the army. He used to get them when they came home on leave and they were only too pleased to make extra money.  There were times I had a go and that was the only time I heard my father swear. We were going up Fulham Road in London and the sirens went and we could then here them bombing and we just kept going. He knew it was close so he said ‘go down that shelter’. I said ‘what about the lorry Dad’ and he said ‘bugger the lorry go down the shelter’.  It stuck in my mind.  We had one man who was an epileptic – he was all right – my father could control him and when he got heated father would sit there and calm him and he would get over it and away he would go again. 

You were telling a nice story about the bear – can you repeat it?

When I was young on Saturday morning I went with father.  Saturday mornings were laundry mornings, Friday and Saturday. In other words there used to be a lot of little laundries; people used to take in laundry for money. Sturt Laundry in Camelsdale was quite a big organisation and one in Longdene Road, Dibbles – we could deliver and collect cheaper than they could do it because we could work it in with our rounds..  We used to pick it up, say, on a Friday or Saturday – or Monday morning first thing on our way to the station.  I was pretty good and could handle the smaller baskets – that was my job.  The Sissons, who used to paint people, used to live in Colliers Farm. Father used to drop me off. He couldn’t get round with the lorry in one sweep and he used to say ‘you nip in with the box of laundry and I will turn the lorry round’. I went in through the big doors into the hall and this huge bear was standing there and I froze. I just threw the box in slammed the door and went.  I said to father ‘there is a bear in there’, and he said ‘It’s a stuffed one it’s all right. Now go and pick the laundry back up and bring it here’.  It really frightened me to death.

That was the bear that was donated to the Haslemere Museum and it is still there today. What did you do as a boy for recreation?

In those days you didn’t have swings and things,  you made your own.  We played cricket, football, we played cowboys and Indians and made huts out in the woods.  We’d make bicycles out of anything we could find.  I remember building one. It had no saddle,(that was quite uncomfortable), and no brakes and no tyres and we just rode them out in the field for a bit of fun.  Cricket, we had the green across the road. The recreation ground was nothing like it is today, especially during the war.  We played football. There was nothing organised so we organised out own games against Easebourne, Lurgashall. 

So you made your own entertainment.  You weren’t bored because you had something to do.

We had go-karts we made out of pram wheels and we used to come down Friday’s Hill – right through the village going like dingbats.



George Larbey

What about your father, when he grew up, what did he do?

 My father, right from when I remember him, he was a cowman for West’s. He was a cowman for West’s up until 1934 when we moved away from Fernhurst for the first time. He, apparently, and I have only been told this by somebody down at the cricket field some three or four years ago, when there was some sort of do and they had a chap on a Boy Scouts stand there, when he found out who I was, he said “I remember your Dad, Vic, he used to bring the milk round in the afternoons. He had a pony and trap”. Apparently he used to milk the cows in the morning and deliver the milk around the village in the afternoon. I remember my father getting 30/- a week. I had two sisters, Pat and Joan, and there was myself and mother and father. They managed somehow or other on 30/- a week. Everybody now says it was a good wage, but it wasn’t a good wage. You just managed on it. Mother used to have to go out to work, to do housework.

Where did you live?

We lived where Sheila Jones lives now. We lived there for four years after I was born.

And that’s on the village green?

Yes, on the green.

And which house is that?

The one nearest the church.

Of the three little cottages?

Yes, of the three little cottages. Next door we had a man by the name of Seward. His parents owned the Spread Eagle at one time I think. And next door to that was a Mrs Salving. I remember her quite well. She used to bake her own bread.  Every time I go by that house now I can smell bread.

And was it Mr Seward who took you to the Red Lion?

Yes. Way before I started school, I can remember, he was always Mr Seward to me, but apparently he was Joshua, (I can remember my mother and father calling him Joshua Seward)…

I think Fernhurst has a lot of nicknames.

My father at one time was always known as “Six foot”, because he was so short. My mother was always “Little heart”.  I can remember walking across the green and quite regularly Mr Seward would take me over to the Red Lion and we would sit in there and I would have a little white glass full of beer. Presumably he would drink it like water – I don’t know.

We moved away from Fernhurst just for the four years and we came back in 1940. We came back to Tanyard.

How nice. Which cottage did you live in?

We lived in the cottage which had – and still has – the ingle-nook fireplace in.  You say how nice – it wasn’t then. Tanyard is rather an idyllic place now, but it wasn’t in 1940.

Can you describe it?

Yes. We had a lavatory down the end of the garden, which was a bucket lavatory. We had a stone sink in the scullery, I suppose you’d call it. That also had a bucket under it to catch the waste water. We had a tin bath hanging up outside, but it very rarely got used because we had no water. The water was collected in a bucket out of Millhanger and just ran into a ditch from out of a pipe which came down off Blackdown. So water was very precious. Of course, no electricity.

What did you have instead?

Oil lamps, and not particularly good oil lamps in those days.  We didn’t run to having mantle lamps. We had just an ordinary two double wick thing which would sit in the middle of the table.  Somehow or other mother and father seemed to be able to read by it but I don’t know how they could when you see it now and what a small amount of light the lamp actually gives you. But this is all we had and I can remember my father used to have to sit with a mirror propped up against the light to shave and things like that, when he got in in the evening. Mind you, he didn’t shave very often. What with water being a bit precious. During the war even razor blades and things like that were pretty scarce.  I remember he would sit there and scratch away at his face. When he got home in the evenings, he came back and he worked for a farmer down at Upperfold Farm, called Humphrey, and he was the cowman down there and he worked 14/15 hours a day. We would very often go quite long periods without seeing our father, especially at harvest time. I think mother always insisted that we wait for our meal until Dad got home. So we all sat round the table and ate our evening meal.

When you arrived at Baldwyns, what was that like?

It was beautiful compared with Tanyard. I mean we had a tap over the sink. That’s all we did have. The lavatory was still down the garden. It wasn’t quite so far because the garden wasn’t so far away. We had a tap over the sink. I’m not certain whether we had to have a bucket under the sink to catch the waste or not. I can’t remember that.  No, I don’t think we did. I think it probably went out into a soak-away. But it was, compared with Tanyard, not that far away from the village.  It probably was as far because we had to walk right round instead of through Millhanger. Of course, it always seemed much farther in those days. When you walk it now you know you think ‘I’m not here already’. But in those days it seemed miles through to the village.

So there were two cottages?


Which one did you live in?

The one nearest Tanyard.

Further up?


Can you describe it, when you walked in the door, what did you see?

In the back door, you walked through a pantry type place, to get into it.  You walked then into a sitting room. There were two rooms downstairs, a sitting room and a kitchen. You walked into this sitting room which from what I can remember had a heavy stone floor to it. I think it was made up either of heavy terracotta tiles or stone blocks or something, with quite a big open fire. And then to the right hand side of that you went into the kitchen, which I always remember used to reek of paraffin. Mother was very proud – when we went to Baldwins she bought a new paraffin stove. That was a three burner stove which had an oven to it as well as two open rings. Of course it made the whole house reek of paraffin. You soon got used to it. You didn’t notice it. We had an old range in there as well, where we burnt wood mainly.

How many rooms upstairs?

There were two rooms and a landing. I used to have to sleep on the landing and mother and father would have one room and then Joan would have the other. Eventually Joan left home, when she was old enough and went and took Pat’s job. Pat came home as she was then coming up to be old enough to register to do jobs of national importance. She had one room, I used to have the landing and Mum and Dad of course had the other room. It seemed to work out alright.   We still didn’t have any electricity or anything like that. Moving next door to Mr Humphrey, Ira Humphrey and his wife and son, they lived exactly the same as we did. They had the same conditions. They just had a cold tap. I became very friendly with Michael, Bumper he was always called. He was a huge boy. He had a cousin who still lives around here I think, Betty, she was Betty Humphrey. Michael and I became very good friends and continued it until he went to grammar school at Midhurst. He came away with flying colours and everybody was very proud of him. He had 7 O levels which in those days was very good.



Brian Silver

That brings me on to another question. What part of Fernhurst do you think has shown the greatest change over the years?

If I go back to my childhood, when I lived down Chesholt Close, all the area round the back of Chesholt Close was Nappers Wood, and as a child I sort of knew Nappers Wood like the back of my hand. It was a fairly extensive wood, obviously covering the whole of where West Close is now, Nappers Wood estate and there was also the field where the school is now, which we used to play in. And all that field right through there going to the back of Upper Cross Cottages, where my grandparents lived, right up to what was Timberscombe and is now Reeks Reynolds I think., was all field running right through there. Now you walk down there and the actual footpath that runs from Upper Cross down to the back of Nappers Wood, that is all fenced off now. But in my time it was all open.  The woods and the field belonged to the Wests, Alf West. And there was no restriction, you know. There was no ‘You’re not allowed to go in here’. It was open. We used to play cricket in the field. We had a cricket pitch made in the field to play on.

Did you?


Whereabouts was that?

Where the school is basically.

Oh right. I was envisaging it further down, nearer Nappers Wood towards the river..

No. That was… the field itself was where the school is now. And the wood started from where the houses start actually in sort of West Close houses and all that estate. That was where the wood started. So that at the back of the house that I lived in, back of Homewood, was the wood. There was a path went through into the field, went over a ditch and into the field. I remember there was a line of daffodils, I don’t know who’d put them there. From up towards Upper Cross itself, there was this row of daffodils that used to come up every year. Amazing. Somebody must have planted them there, I don’t know when. Again we used to go and pick the daffodils. But I think it’s that area around there really, obviously because I lived close to it, that’s changed so much. The wood itself was my play area, if you like. I think in those days, people didn’t worry about children going off on their own, and didn’t worry about what might happen to them, whereas nowadays perhaps you wouldn’t let children wander off like that. My grandfather, when my Gran died he came and lived with us at Homewood and that would have been when I was about 9 or 10. And he was very keen on birdwatching and nature generally. I can remember sort of going out birdwatching and just wandering, going up through to Marley and that sort of area. That is an area that I think has changed enormously. And obviously the changes that you’re aware of, you know the loss of the Spread Eagle and Lambert’s Yard, and West’s Yard. They’re all sort of landmarks that have disappeared. And then there’s the area down Vann Road on the left hand side, which again was all fields. Where the shops are.



Darrell Stirling

We moved into a small cottage.  One of three at the bottom of the village Green. We knew it as Mrs. Preston’s cottage.  Kitchen ceiling – I couldn’t stand up to my full height, which is not a very great full height - it's only about five-nine, five-eight.  There was one cold water tap.  The living room walls under the wash you could read past copies of The Times if you so wished.  But we had a splendid view across the Green, and also to the south, the lovely spread of the Sussex landscape to the south.  On one side was the King family and on the other side the Wellands, who were a very, very old established Fernhurst family.  But I think ten children - as was the habit in days gone by.  And shopping?  Well, you went to Coles, at the Cross, or, like most people, you went to Midhurst on the bus on a Saturday morning and, when you came back on the bus, it was usually full of passengers, including standing passengers.  There were very few cars, and those who had motor cars had no petrol.  Only essential users, such as doctors, were allowed petrol.



Poppie Upperton

What did you do if you wanted to go to a cinema or a dance?

There were dances in the village hall, we didn’t go out.  But afterwards, as time progressed, they used to run a taxi from the garage. We used to go to Lurgashall.
And it was ever so funny. If the water came over the bridge at Lurgashall, the men would have to take their shoes and socks off and roll their trousers up and push us through.

It didn’t stop you going to the dance though.

No. That would be a flash flood. It would often come up while we were at the dance. Otherwise we wouldn’t have gone I don’t suppose. It was so funny. We were always giggling. They didn’t expect girls to get out and do things like that in those days. Now they would, wouldn’t they.



Alf West

Did every family have a pig, do you remember that?

Nearly everybody had pigs, yes and chickens.  Used to have two pigs, sell one to pay for the other one.

That was quite something to have a butchering pig wasn’t it, was there one man that did it in the village?

There were three different people that used to kill pigs in the village.

Was there a celebration when you’d done it because there were lots of things over?

No, no, nothing particularly.

How did you deal with the carcass, I mean you didn’t have fridges or freezers?

Salt the pork down and have a big tub.  The butcher or slaughterer a day or two after when it had got cold come along, cut it up into whatever size pieces you wanted, legs and always used to cut the backbone out.  That’s something you remember I suppose, he always used to pour the chine and a chine pie was beautiful.  Just the backbone and I know dad used to say “oh steady on, steady on, don’t cut too much meat off, leave a bit of meat on the bone”, make a chine pie beautiful.



Jeffrie White

If you had to get somewhere, you walked or cycled. I mean there were very few people who had even a motorbike, never mind a car. People with cars were toffs – the Dickensons and Lord Riverdale and those sort of people.

Was there any bus service?

Oh yes. There was a good bus service through here. They used to run every half hour and bang on time. That was the Aldershot & District – they used to run to Midhurst and then the South Downs company went on from there. Road conditions were totally different in those days. There was virtually nothing to hold them up. When we were living down the Midhurst Road, we used to play in the road, whipping the tops, and the girls playing hopscotch and that sort of thing, without fear of something coming. There might have been the bus or the odd car but not a lot. Of course there were no pavements on the roads then.

When did you have running water installed?

It could have been only just prior to the war, when the sewerage was done in the ‘30s, because there was no mains drainage. Running water was just one tap in the scullery, that was all.   I remember when I was a kid we had the oil lamps, because if we got too boisterous, there used to be the warning “Be careful, you’ll knock the lamp over”  from our parents. Then once we had electricity my mother would say “Switch that light off, we’ll have too big a bill.” Virtually afraid to switch it on for any long period. We used to in the main sitting room, but anywhere else…Prior to that you had the one oil lamp in the sitting room and if you wanted to go upstairs, it was candles. We used to go to bed and have a candle to read by. Mother would say, “Don’t read too long, you’ll ruin your eyes”. Compared to today’s living they were pretty primitive days, I suppose.



Lillian White

Mrs Olive Gilbert has done a tape describing her childhood in the house next door and mentions this house where the Larbey’s lived;  also that the bomb dropped here – so in a way you have benefited from that because it has been rebuilt.

This was the house for the managers of the shop.  When Mr Cole had his shop over the road he eventually put his managers over here and the last one was Mr Henderson who he moved up the top there where the new houses are now and that is why it became vacant.   Margaret said come and have a little talk and would you like it.  We were happy at Nappers Wood but it was so cold up there and the garden was hard work – there was no central heating in those days.  We moved in when they were first built and they hadn’t even put the road in then.  I can see it now sitting up there waiting for the furniture to arrive and it was all black Marley tiled floors and just one little fire place and no heat would come out of it – they have all changed now.  But we had happy times, nice in the summer but cold in the winter.

Was it a one storey house.

A two-bedroomed house.  We got the garden very nice.  If we had still been there we would have probably bought it and put a conservatory on the back.  This house had more character and a big garden which we used to plan – but later we sold a plot because it was getting too much for us. 

You used to help with the garden?

Yes I used to love doing the garden – the grandchildren loved the garden here.  They had there own little plots.  There is a pig pen at the end – an old pig pen was here when we first came and an outside toilet. 

What was at the back here when you first came?

There was a shed, we had a shed and at the back there was an old building that wasn’t used and on the far side another little open building where someone used to park their car there. It all belonged to Mr Cole this property. Then eventually he sold it all and Colin Lambert bought the end place and used to sell second-hand furniture.  Then they had a little place at the back of our garden shed - one of his son in laws had it and he used to restore (you know Bakers on Wey Hill the Furniture people) he had that for restoring some furniture. He was married to one of their daughters at one time. It is all finished now.  So he left that and Colin used that for second-hand he used to keep his china in there.  It has all been sold now – I think it is going to be made into a bungalow.  Not much space there.

There was an old washroom at the back of your house?

Yes we’ve got the old bread oven still in there.  Because it was a shed like they have next door. The roof gave way. We really did not want to spend a lot on that and being as we had sold part of the garden my husband thought I will take the roof off and the window and we will have a patio and that is what we have done.  We kept it as much as we could in keeping with the place and found some old flagstones to put on the patio and the bricks we cleaned up and we built a little raised bed but the actual bread oven is still in the wall.



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The Fernhurst Oral History Project was supported by the Local Heritage Initiative. The Local Heritage Initiative was developed by the Countryside Agency and was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Nationwide Building Society.