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An Interview with Tony Morley, Belle View, Newmarket Road

Tony Morley is a bachelor who has lived in the village and the same house all his life and is a well-known personality.

Tony's father bought Belle View in 1921 for 500. The age of the property is approximately 200 years. It has two acres of land plus large barns. Originally, it was a pub called The Six Bells. There were no estate agents in those days - his father bought it by auction at the Bell Hotel, Mildenhall.

Belle View 1.jpg (53014 bytes)When his father bought Belle View it had already been converted from a pub into a shooting box by Charringtons (the brewers) - it had been empty for several years. It still has a large cellar and a main and back staircase. Considering its age, Tony has never had reason to think there are any ghosts haunting the house!

Mr Morley (Senior) used to do vet's work. He treated horses mainly, but would also tend other animals as necessary. Tony said he could cure anything. He would walk to St Ives with a stallion, calling at farms on the way.

Mr Morley was killed in 1936; he was knocked off his bicycle. On the day of the accident he had a bad arm, which he was treating himself. The accident happened on the A11 at five-ways crossroads. He was coming home from The Bell, Mildenhall, where he had bought butter and was going for a drink at the Dog and Partridge pub. It was a Friday and Tony can remember that day well. He was off with his mother in an Austin 7 to Bury St Edmunds hospital. Tony was six years old (he was born in 1931) and his sister, Marjory, was six months old.

Tony's mother, Louisa Morley, came to Barton Mills as a housekeeper for his father in the first place. Before Tony's father was killed, his grandfather (who was a gamekeeper for Sir Henry Bunbury) was made redundant due to the estate being sold. So the family came to live at Belle View; this included his grandmother and his aunt, Dorothy.

When his grandmother lived at Kenny Hill she was the local midwife. His grandfather used to say, "There goes the old woman again." as she walked over the fields to attend a birth.

When his father was killed there was no National Insurance or pensions, so his mother did not get a pension until she was 80 years of age.

Tony's mother took in lodgers after her husband died, helped by her sister Dorothy. The clients mainly worked at the bank in Mildenhall. Even after they left the area some of them visited regularly and now their children come, but of course they are elderly now. Dorothy mainly looked after Tony and Marjory and took them out, also doing the shopping. Tony's mother rarely went out except to church. His sister played the church organ. Sadly, she died at the age of 41 in 1976.

Tony started work in 1945, at the age of 14, on the land. His wages were 1-6s-0d a week. Tony left work in 1980 to look after his aunt who had suffered a stroke (she later died at the age of 85 in 1991). He also looked after his mother, who died in 1998, aged 104.

Belle View 2.jpg (39918 bytes)Tony is well known for his beautiful flower garden and for growing his own plants from seed. He is self-taught - his interest started when he bought a packet of seeds from Woolworths. He thinks that his gardening knowledge and interest is hereditary, as his grandfather was a good nursery-man. In 1979 there was an article in Woman Magazine with pictures of his garden.

Copyright 2000: B. Morris

A Forest Heath District Council (Suffolk) Project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Millennium Festival 2000 Designed by ArtAtac