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These interviews took place from February and were transcribed by Gillian Turner from minidisc recordings of the 'Memories' of village residents. Simply click on the name to expand their section.

Interviews by Gillian Turner and recordings by N. Turner (Doris, Eva, Phyllis, Les, Agnes, Reg, Alan, Pam, Taffy, Harry and Irene) and C.N. Hobart (Reg and Pam).

Reginald William TrettSimply click to view spoken memories

Reg Trett > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to return"I was born at 87 Brandon Road, on 16th June, 1921, and lived there with my parents; they eventually moved up to number 41 London Road, near the post office, and stayed there for the rest of their lives. I had two brothers Ron and Bryan, Ron sadly died a short while ago; Bryan lives in Thetford, his family lives nearby. When I married Sylvia nee Clarke in 1950, the first house we went in was 87 Brandon Road, I spent two years there. I then went and spent two years at 102 Chalk Hall, in the old flint cottage; I then lived 11 years at 77 Cross Roads, where my grandmother and grandfather Kent had been, strangely enough. I moved here to this Cottage in 1968, so I've been here for 32 years.

My son Graham was born in 1952, on 22nd Dec and my daughter Sheila was born in 1954 on the 27th July.

I left school at fourteen, I went to Elveden Voluntary School. When the shooting parties were here the Lords and Ladies used to go golfing on the lovely golf course. [In Elveden Park] I used to go caddying there on a Sunday morning for five shillings for all the eighteen holes. I was nearly always picked by the Earl of Dudley, he always used to beckon me .... well mostly, and also I used to caddie on a Sunday afternoon for General de Lotbiniere, he used to come over from Brandon. There used to be Bob Ansell, Harold Wood - a gang of us used to get there. We used to go caddying for extra you know, a bit of pocket money, and we used to buy a crafty packet of 'Wild Woodbines' from the shop (laugh) you'd get five in a packet for twopence. When we were out bird scaring, we'd meet in the hedge, brother Ron would be on one side of the road at Chalkhall, I was on the other, yes, we'd meet in the hedge and have a crafty old smoke (chuckle). There was a bit of a joke about that, when the lads went in for a packet of cigarettes, Mr. Plumb, the shopkeeper, used to say to us, 'You want Wild Woodbines?' I'd say, 'Yes!' he'd say, 'Well it's about time you tamed them!'(laughter). We used to go bird scaring up the fields, to keep them off the corn crops and that, you know, pigeons and crows and what not. 2/6d for two days, that's all we got, we used to start off in the morning and be home again just as it got dusk in the afternoon -that's before I left school; at fourteen I left school.

My parents wanted me to serve and apprenticeship at Mr. Budden's Garage, which I did for a time. I went there to start my apprenticeship for 10/- a week. After I'd been there a while I found that a lot of the lads of my age, on the farm, were getting 14/- so I decided to finish there and go on the farm, so that's what I did; down at Redneck, in fact, where my grandfather was Head Cowman; my mother's father, Mr. Kent. I worked down there quite a lot, at Redneck Farm, doing odd jobs for a start - like cutting kale for the cows. Then they asked me to go in the dairy - milking - there used to be hand milking then. I went there for a while and they eventually got milk bails with milking machines. 

They used to take it out on the fields and move it about every so often and all the milking was done on the fields. All the food was stored at the top of the milk bail for the cows. That was the early part of the war because it wasn't long after they asked me to go to Chalkhall, in the cows there, and then they asked me to go on the milk round with the milk cart. I went on that for a year, then Pam Roper --Pam Watts as she was then, came with me for a couple of weeks to get to know the job and she took the job on. I went in the army and from then on I was 5 years - in the Royal Engineers, 3 years of that I was abroad - went to North Africa, Algiers. I went to Italy, Salerno, Naples and Monte Casino, from there I went to Port Said, Egypt, then to Israel. I went from there to Tel Aviv in Palestine and from Tel Aviv I went to Beirut in the Lebanon and from Beirut then I went on to Basra in Iraq. We were only allowed six months in Iraq. I was nearly due for demob anyway. I came back to Egypt then, to Alexandria, and then home to Aldershot; I was demobbed in 1946. So I did 4 years and ten months in the army, so a lot of that time I don't know what did go on around here in Elveden. 

I understand there were quite a lot of Americans in the Park and all their huts and buildings. I had spent three years abroad so I missed out on a lot of what went on around here. When I was in Tel Aviv in Palestine they did allow some of us who had done two years, a month to go home and get back, before you finally got demobbed. We could either fly home or come by boat, so we decided , my mate and me, to come by boat. We came from Port Said to Toulons in France across France to Calais and across the Channel and home and we done the same going back - to Tel Aviv. We weren't long before we moved to Beirut in the Lebanon. After I got demobbed at Aldershot I had a bit of leave from, October until the February, at home and spent some of my money. I started work at Thetford, and it snowed then for 6 weeks... ice and snow - all February and for two weeks into March. I worked for Allisons, eventually called Coach Services , as a mechanic for two years. Later I got another job for about six months, carting scrap metal for the Southern Metal Company, a London firm, at Barnham bomb dump. Alan used to be there with me -Alan Cousins. Alan used to be with me at Allison's too, in Thetford as an apprentice. Then I was offered a job at Thetford, lorry driving with Harry King, carting pit props for coal mines. We used to cart them to Brandon Station, taking wood out of the forestry. I suppose I was there almost a year, then I was offered more money, another lorry driving job, with Ponsford's at Barton Mills. He offered me and Ron, Sylvia's brother Ron, he was my mate then, better money to go carting lime. We used to cart all round here. We used to get the loads at Claydon, near Ipswich and take them around the coast or anywhere it was needed. 

I was courting, then I got married and wanted a house. I saw Mr. Dow here, and said, "What's the chance of a house if I come to work here?". "Yes!", he said, "We need a mechanic in the workshop so you can start next week." That was 1950, the year I got married, I got married on March 24th. So I started the next week and that certificate (for long service) up there on the wall was presented to me at the Suffolk Show. I went into the workshop and I was there for 35 years. I did a mixture of work, mainly tyre work most of my time, and pipe work, working around the dairies mending burst pipes and things. My brother Ron worked with me in the workshop. My job was mostly the tyre work, they never had contract people come in then like Cecil and Larters. I used to do it all, change all the big tractor tyres, vulcanise, do repairs - they nicknamed me the tyre doctor... (laugh). Les Trett said the other day, "Always think of you as the old tyre doctor." Heavy work, things were harder then, used to have to knock 'em off with crowbars whereas now they do it with a machine, prrrrrrr and off it go easy now, but I had it the hard way. For the last few years before I retired I worked on the six irrigators on the fields, although I worked on the irrigation I was still employed in the workshop; I used to go back and do odd jobs.

My father was in the war from 1914 to 1918, he was in the Norfolks and he spent quite a lot of time in France. As far as I know he always worked here in the gardens. He came here as a young lad, his father used to be a carpenter in the carpenter's shop, old Bill Trett, my grandfather. I've heard my dad say that he and his father used to walk from Brandon to Elveden and back, night and morning, in the early days before they could afford bicycles. I think he worked for a short while for someone in Brandon but it wasn't for very long. The walled gardens were here, opposite the village hall. That always was known as the Vegetable Gardens, the one in the park, near the stables, was always known as the Pleasure Gardens, he used to refer to that as the Pleasure Gardens. They used to grow mainly flowers and things as decoration for the hall. My father supplied all the vegetables. In the early days it was Martin Flack who was the man in charge of the gardens; when my father first started, and eventually, when Martin Flack died, my father was made head gardener and took charge. Yes, there were great big greenhouses, they used to grow cucumbers, tomatoes, two kinds of grapes; blue grapes and white grapes, and they had a bit of ground near the Rectory Cottage, outside the walled garden, where they used to grow sprouts and cabbages and things; they had currant bushes and raspberries there as well, because they hadn't room inside. 

They also had strawberry beds in the gardens. There were no end of fruit trees, Cox's Orange apples, which a lot of people liked, Blenheims, I've heard him talk about. Loads of fruit trees, you name it in the gardens and he'd got it, all sorts you know. He used to supply the hall because they had shooting parties quite often then. They did more shooting at that time, two or three days during the week, and the week ends. They had all the Lords and Ladies here and used to have their parties up at the Hall with dancing in the Marble Hall. My dad used to supply all the vegetables for the kitchen and he used to get on well with the chef up there, he was a French chef, very particular, from what dad used to say. In the evening to get a bit of extra cash my dad used to go up there and help in the kitchen; help to wash up - for bit of extra beer money.... (laugh).

Another job my dad used to do:- They used to grow great wide strips of flowers up the back of Redneck called pyrethrums you've probably heard of them; big strips about twice as wide as this road down here which went from Redneck to the Husk. [from the back of Redneck Farm towards the forestry]. My dad and Tom Trayes, the keeper, and Wilfred Bowers from Barnham Lodge, some of the time, another keeper, and Fred Butcher, who used to look after the kennels, worked up there together. Fred looked after all the gun dogs up at the kennels which were at Warren Wood, where the Lords and Ladies used to leave their dogs to be looked after when they weren't needed for the shooting field. He was a great pal of my dads. Yes... but this pyrethrum job, I went up there as a boy with them and my brother Ron sometimes as well, to help them if we could, but a lot of time we were in the way. They used to cut the heads off these pyrethrums and send them away. 

They used to get some special oil out of them. [Gill: "Not the basis of some sort of insecticide are they?"] Reg: Yes, something like that, they got a good price for them. Dad would be working in the gardens all day then he'd have his tea and go up there in the evenings for a bit of extra cash - and talking about this caddying, I have known my dad to do that sometimes..that was when they had a real lot of people there, sometimes they had a real crowd of them there. On a Sunday morning about nine o'clock time they were all raring to go on the golf course, a real crowd of these Lords and Ladies you know. They 'd all be here for the shooting. [Gill: "You were allowed to play golf weren't you, when the Lords and Ladies weren't down?"] Reg: Oh yes my dad bought a set of clubs off the bloke who used to live at Grey Cottage, Bob Ransome, the Hall carpenter, he bought a set of club off him, cheap. They had wooden shafts not the steel shafts. 

We used to go and play on Sunday afternoons when it was quiet - my dad and Ron and me and there used to be a man come over from Thetford, who used to come and have a game with us, he used to look after the course, Fred Whitton, old Fred Whitton, he'd come on a Sunday afternoon and make up a foursome. A lovely golf course that was, that got ploughed up during the war didn't it? Eighteen hole course well looked after - Fred Whitton used to cut all the greens and the farms cut the rough. {Gill: "There was a tennis court as well."] Reg: Oh yes, Jack Rutterford who looked after the aviary, there were a beautiful lot of birds in there. I think Jack also used to look after the hard tennis court, keep it tidy and keep his eye on that. [Gill: "Were you a footballer?"] Yes, I played football and I played a few games of cricket, I got hit a few times with the ball and I didn't like it. (laugh) I played football for a coupla year I suppose but not for long, so did Ron, for the village. That was the time when Peter Cockburn used to play. Ron was better than me (at football) he played longer than I did. I played full back and I wasn't very keen on that position. We used to play all different places round about. They did well in the Ouse Valley League - (Elveden). I know one year they won, but I was more interested in the golf.

Going back, I can remember one unusual instance when King George V came down, I was at school then, because on the way to school the King was coming up to the Hall. He went through the gates near the Cross Roads, the Lodge Gates, where Mrs. Smith now live, and all the women and the children got there to see him come through the gates, about 9 o'clock time. Did get a quick glimpse of him as he went by, of course he had all the other cars and that with him. I can't remember what year. The shooting parties went on all the time didn't they?

I remember going up to the game larder and buying some pheasants and rabbits , and father used to skin them and hang the skins on the wall for a bit of extra money. A man name of Mackender used to come from Lakenheath, and pay twopence a skin, so if we'd half a dozen skins that'd be a shilling. Dad would just hang them on the wall to dry outside in the back yard , we used to go up and buy the rabbits at the game larder and didn't your dad(E.G. Turner) used to have his desk there? Another thing my dad used to do for extra money, he used to go at weekends digging for wasps nests on the bank down at Redneck, then he used to take them up to the Clerk of the Works yard to Marjorie Alderton, Nev's mum, to get the money. They'd be paid sixpence a nest and a penny for a rat tail, so if they caught any rats in the gardens there, they used to nip the ends of the tails off, put them in a matchbox and take them up there; if you had six tails you'd get sixpence. They'd do all sorts of things like that for extra money. I well remember what his money was at the time. He used to talk about his money, it was 28/- a week in the gardens at that time of the day... went on for quite a while, in the late twenties early thirties, I suppose I was about 14 or fifteen then.

To Nev: Didn't your dad (E.G. Turner) used to hang the pheasants up, yes then eventually he went into the Estate Office didn't he?"

[Neville: "Yes, he went into the Estate Office, in 1946. He had been working with his father (Tom Turner) at the Game Larder, since the family moved here from Icklingham in 1919. When my father married Marjorie Alderton in 1934 they moved into the Stables."].

Reg: "I used to go round the Game Larder when I worked in the workshop, quite a lot, that's when I got mixed up with old Tom , your grandfather, we used to refer to him as old Tom. I have read his book, Tommy let me borrow it, Tom Trayes you know, and I've also read you dad's book, which my young brother got in Thetford. About old Tom, I used to go round there. When I started to work in the workshop in about 1950 I used to go down to Thetford once a week to get spare parts from the station and take stuff to the station, as a regular run and get stuff from Frank Clarkes (ironmongers) on a Wednesday morning. One of my first jobs was always to go round the Game Larder, to see what Mr. Tom Turner wanted. I had to do that as my first job, go and see what Mr. Turner wanted, if he wanted anything I was to get it. He ordered stuff from Frank Clarkes and I used to collect it and bring it back here; wire netting, rat traps or mole traps, rabbit traps, specially rabbit traps. I remember that well and I used to bring them back to him. He used to say "Well don't forget to get my bottle of whisky from Moss and Potters!"....(laugh) I used to get him a bottle of Johnny Walker.... and also, "I think, perhaps, I could do with a crate of Guinness this week!"(laugh) Anyhow my main job was to go to get stuff from Frank Clarkes at Thetford, to do with the game. This other thing I'm now talking about was our little personal business. I used to have a drink with him round there, he'd say, "Have a drink!" - cos that time of day you could, couldn't you? Lot of the time we'd perhaps just have a small Guinness or he'd say, "If you don't want to drink it now take it with you in your pocket.".. (laugh). Anyway, I used to go brushing when I was a lad about 14 or 15, we went a few times Ron and me, and we used to have to wear white smocks, with red cuffs and red collars. You didn't get transported that time of o' day, if we went brushing at Eriswell, we had to cycle there, do a day's brushing then cycle home; we done that for a couple o' year....and I don't know how we come to finish with it. It got more organised and had tractors and trailers and vans to take the beaters, that's another thing too, who used to be on the game cart, Bill Alderton, Nev's grandfather,(maternal grandfather) he used to cart the pheasants; had all the poles acrost on the cart with all the pheasants on - he used to have this big four wheel cart.(horse drawn). When we finished going brushing they used to take the older chaps, they used to have a van or a lorry to take them so that finished us young boys.

About the Dairy Herd, each herd was about 100, anything from 80 to 100 cows, most of the cows had their own names too. Lord and Lady Iveagh the old Lord and Lady Iveagh, we referred to them as Rupert and Gwen, used to name them. When the cows calved they'd give that calf a name and it kept that name right the way through, so when the cows came into the dairy you knew by the number that was marked either on the horns or a tab on it's ear - and say, "Oh that's number so and so!" - 'Pyrford Enid' - or something like that. In latter years all the cows had their names and Lord and Lady Iveagh got to know a lot of these. Some of their calves came from Pyrford, in Woking, Surrey. Bert Davey used to go down in the cattle lorry, and bring calves back, in fact I've been down with him.

At Chalkhall, a bull, 'Gay Rambler', bit me once and laid me up for a fortnight, skinned all my neck and ear. I went in the pen on my own when I shouldn't a done. He'd got a cow in there and he thought I was going to take the cow away! Anyway it wasn't too bad. Reg Turner used to take the bull up to the cow in them days, and there used to one called 'Milton Monarch', and I used to ride on its back, Reg would be leading him with a staff. He was such a lovely quiet old bull, going along the sandy road up old Elden I'd jump on his back and ride him. (Chuckle) He was so quiet, lovely old bull he was. Anyway 'Gay Rambler' was a bit nasty, he was used to me but this particular day he didn't like me. I've got a picture somewhere here where I'm holding a bull, at Chalk Hall. Reg Turner took the picture. Reg kept it all through the war and then gave it to me, one election day (Reg used to come to Elveden Village Hall as a polling clerk until recently). He said, "There you are I've carried it all through the war and now you can have it back. !"'

Reg Trett has lived in Elveden all his life and will be eighty next year.

Reginald Abel TrettSimply click to view spoken memories

Reg's father was Reginald Abel Trett who was born in Brandon, his grandfather William Trett and mother Elizabeth moved from Brandon to 67 Cross Roads. Until that time both his father and grandfather, Bill, who was a carpenter on the Elveden estate, used to walk to Elveden to work. Reginald Abel was employed for a short while in Brandon.

Reginald William's mother was Mildred Lucy nee Kent who lived at Redneck Farm, Elveden where her father was Head Cowman, she was born in 1900.

Reg and Mildred married and lived at 87 Brandon Road and later moved to 41 London Road, where their three children were born. They lived there the rest of their lives, Reginald Abel died aged 85.

Reg Trett (snr) was Head Gardener on the Elveden Estate, taking over from Martin Flack on his retirement. He was in charge of the vegetable gardens and greenhouses in the walled gardens opposite the village hall. He supplied Elveden Hall with a vast selection of vegetables and fruit, including all kinds of soft fruit, strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, grapes -white and purple, which were grown in the large greenhouses, as were tomatoes, cucumbers and other fruits. Apple, both dessert and cooking varieties, pear, greengage and plum trees were grown in the orchards; pears and peaches were trained on espaliers against the garden walls.

[During this time flowers were grown in the greenhouses and walled gardens near the Stables in the Park, adjacent to the Head Gardener's house and gardeners' bothy, (now the Stables Cottage and the Gardens Cottage). The gardens and greenhouses were tended by Jim Brown and Bert Atkins and supplied all the flowers for the Hall. Clipped yew hedges formed a boundary on one side, nearby there was a topiary garden and a palm house - all the hedges and topiary were looked after by Bert Grimwood. This and the area near the Water Tower and Lily Pond were known as the Pleasure Gardens.]

Geneva Maude PaulSimply click to view spoken memories

My name is Geneva Maude Paul, I was born in Fort Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, I have my birth certificate to show you, we lived there for three years, then we went from there to Bombay, where my brother Albert was born. Dad was a soldier, you see, so my mother travelled with him. Dad's foreign service was about to finish, so we went from India to Malta, then he was discharged and we came home to England.

Dad was in the Boer War, he was a corporal, we've got his medals. He was a Sergeant Major in the First World War as a drill instructor, and by the time he finished he was a Regimental Sergeant Major. So that's my life story (laugh).

We settled in Dereham, there were only two born abroad, Albert and myself, mother went out to South Africa with my eldest brother, Soames, when he was a tiny baby. Dad went out on the troop ship. Mother went out on an ordinary boat, it must have been a terrible journey in those days. My Mother loved Africa, she was always talking about Africa, and what a lovely life it was there; I wish I could go back and see where I was born, you know. I would love it. Fort Natal was a barracks, but I can remember it and I can remember the ayah, our nurse, and we were waited upon - Dad had a good position and in those days.

After his twenty-one years foreign service he finished.

He had joined the Royal Norfolk's as a boy soldier, he gave his age two years in advance, he joined at sixteen but he registered as eighteen. He was a soldier when mother met him, he'd finished his Boer War service. My son, Robert's got his medal, it's a great big solid silver one, and we've got all his First World War Medals. The family agreed that Robert should have them.

We lived at Crown Road, Dereham, a three story house, and we had a lovely cellar. Then we moved to Norwich Road to the house where the family still live. The others were born there, Doris, (see 'Memories') Bill and Betty.

When I left school, at fourteen, I worked for three years in a laundry in Norwich Road, then they had a fire and were burnt down, then they transferred to Friars Cross Laundry, Wymondham. Later I became a laundry maid at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, and from there I came to Elveden, and I've been here ever since.

I came here in 1927, that's right, I was nineteen years old, and I wondered what I was coming to. When I got out of Thetford, there was no (London 1950's) overspill then, there were no houses whatsoever. Stanley Carter, the chauffeur in those days, picked me up and as we came along I said, "Wherever are the houses?" "Oh," he said. 'There isn't any!" ..so we got to the Gap and he said, "We are now entering Elveden, and he said, 'They are the only two houses there." We came into the Park, and it was getting towards evening time, and I said, "Good gracious, where ever are all the lights?" He said, "There isn't any!" "Oh," I said, "How terrible!" So he said, "How long are you here for?" I said, "On a month's trial." So he said, "Well, at the end of the month I expect I'll be taking you back again!" I said, "Yes I think you will!" but I didn't , I stayed! Oh it was terrible I came from Norwich, a city, and you can imagine what it was like!.. and to go up that little hill and all the dark trees, and then to get in the laundry , and it was very primitive, it really was primitive. There was only one laundry maid there, Matilda Dunn, she was the head laundry maid then, she was lovely, she really was lovely. Then we had Lucy Paul, she came in daily, and Mrs. Charlotte Wood, Nancy (Cooper) was there, then gradually they extended the laundry maids. By the time I left there were five laundry maids there, including my sister Doris. Lucy came there from school, and did the laundry work before she went into the Hall, then worked herself up there to Head Housemaid. When Nancy left Elsie took her place. Nancy returned to work in the Laundry much later on and lived in the Laundry Cottage with Cecil, her husband, and family.

My day's work was pretty rough, pretty hard, well in those days, you were a servant, and you were treated as a servant, and it was hard work, but it was the same I expect, everywhere, in a gentry's place. We had good times as well as hard work. Life is what you make it!

We had the old fashioned flat irons, heated on a great stove in the middle of the laundry, there were three tiers, with flat irons all the way round it. Most of the material had to be ironed up wet, like all the great big linen sheets, you had to keep walking to the irons and getting your irons - replenishing them - and carrying on. Everything was starched, what should be, it looked lovely. Lord and Lady Iveagh had beautiful linen, highly embroidered and with his crest, it was gorgeous! The embroidery absolutely stood up, you used to iron it on pieces of flannel to make it rise up.

In the shooting season the work was terrific. It was nothing to have two days just washing, we worked for so many houses, it wasn't just Elveden Hall, there was Pyrford Estate, the big house in London, St. James', then there was the yacht, we did all the yacht washing (there were two yachts 'Catalonia' and 'Leander') and there was some that came over from Ireland. Mr. William Speed was on the yacht. In the summer time it wasn't too bad because they'd be on the yacht, so we didn't have so much from the various houses, and very little from Elveden. In the busy season it was nothing to start at five o'clock in the morning, and on washdays. We'd start washing at half past six or seven o'clock, and that meant rubbing an scrubbing, and that would be all day! They were no up-to -date washing powders, it was soda, soft soap and 'Hudsons ' washing powder. There was one big washing machine, but that was to do the servants' stuff, like the big sheets, towels, and the teacloths - rough stuff. All the gentry's sheets, everything was washed by hand, there were dozens and dozens of napkins. They only slept in their sheets once, and they were changed every day, that applied to all the houses, not just Elveden. We had to wash for the parlour maids, there were their aprons and we had their caps to goffer, (fluted with hot irons) they were goffered by hand , there wasn't a machine to do it, yes very skilled work. Then all the pillowcases had to be crimped by hand and that was with a little flat iron that was pushed into the material to make it all come crinkly. That was lovely, when it was done, it looked beautiful, and that was all the gentry's pillowcases. That used to take quite a while to do one big pillowcase. We had to wash all the children's clothes, there were four then, there was Lord Elveden, Lady Honor, Lady Patricia and Lady Brigid. Mrs. Sutherland was Nanny and Dolly Turner was the nursery maid.

I stayed in the laundry nine and a half years. I met Jim (Paul)and got married, we were courting quite a while because we hadn't the money to get married, we didn't get very big wages.

I can't honestly tell you how much we got, but we got more in board wages than we did in personal wages. Because, you see, we lived in the Laundry Cottage, and we were allowed 1.2.6. a week board wages, the housemaids were 'kept' at the Hall, but we lived in the Laundry Cottage so that's what we were allowed. I should imagine we got about 2.00 per month personal wages - the wages were ever so poor. If we had a good Head Laundry Maid, and second Laundry Maid they would work out the bills, if she was a good, genuine one, she would share out the board money that wasn't spent amongst the laundry maids, we lived very frugally at the time, so, sometimes, we had an extra wage - but some head laundry maids didn't do that, they kept it all. Mrs. Morris, the Head Housekeeper, asked us to sign the book to say we'd had that money but she'd hand it to the head laundry maid, we didn't hold it, so it depended on their honesty. One or two we had, didn't share anything, we knew we kept them with our board wages and they saved theirs. But you were an underservant and could do nothing about it. You had no 'place' - only to do the work.

Jim and I were married in 1938 and eighteen months later Robert was born and Richard was born in 1945.

When we first married Jim used to be in charge of a horse drawn timber drug. They'd cut the trees down, and drag them out with a timber drug, he had three horses. Jack Turner and he used to do it. They did away with all that, the tractors took over, then Jim went to work on the farm, they had more modern methods then. We'd been married six or more years and then Mr. Dow made him up to farm foreman, we were better off then. He stayed foreman until he retired. Jim used to have the horses down at Summerpit. Jim loved his horses, he really did, one was called Captain and another called Treacle, I don' t know for why. They were great big Suffolk Punches, beautiful horses. When I was working at the laundry I used to go down there with him Sunday afternoons when he got them ready for the night. We had Sunday afternoons off but we had to be in by nine o'clock. We had to walk everywhere then, or go by bike. We went on Towler's bus to Bury, not very often , I never did bike to Bury. We biked to Thetford on Saturday evenings, but not in the shooting season, because we'd be ironing. During the summer-time we used to bike in.

When Robert left school at sixteen, he worked on the farm. Richard became apprenticed to an electrician. Robert is still working for Elveden Farms. Robert is happily married to Pat and they have two daughters Sarah and Rachel, Sarah lives in Scotland and works with horses which she loves, like her grandfather, and Rachel works in Wroxham, she recently graduated from a London College course and when she graduated she won a prize as student of the year. She is an expert trampolinist which she also coaches. Richard is married to Margaret and has a daughter, Teresa, by his first marriage, she is married and has three lovely children. Jim would have been proud of his granddaughters.

We had wonderful neighbours, for many years, Marjorie and Ted Turner. Ted and Jim could have written a history of Elveden between them!

I've been in this cottage for 14 years now. I was born in 1908, - 8.10 08, I'm ninety-one now, the oldest in the Parish, some times I feel one hundred and one and sometimes I feel nothing at all!!

I don't grumble I've got nothing to grumble about."

Doris Lilian CrossSimply click to view spoken memories

Doris Cross > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to return'I came to Elveden as a Laundry Maid in 1936, at the age of seventeen, Eva, my sister was here already. When I came, all through the Park it was lovely, I had been here before, staying with a Mr. and Mrs. Ashen, Mr. Ashen was the laundry boiler man and lived in the bungalow, near the Laundry. Mr. Cousins took over from him later. Eva had us over here for a fortnight's holiday, Betty, Stanley and me, so I knew within a little what it was like. I had a shock when I got to the laundry, it was quite big - but Eva was there so it made a difference. Gertrude, the Laundry Maid was there, and she was a very big person, she always reminded me of a prison matron, and Elsie was there. I went as the fourth Laundry Maid. Mr. Cousins was then the boiler man, and he lived in the Bungalow at the time and he had a son Alan, eventually they moved up to the Dairy Cottage (at the end of the laundry building). That was very, very hard work at the laundry, I often wondered if I would stay, but a little while after we had another laundry maid, my friend Edna, from Dereham, but unfortunately her father was taken ill so she had to go home to be with her mother, after Edna left my sister, Betty took her place and stayed until the beginning of the war. 

So we three sisters were working at the laundry at the same time. As time went by and I became friends with Audrey and Eileen Atkins who lived at Albemarle with their parents, they had two brothers, Roy and Derek. I became friends with Mr. and Mrs. Hanslip who had a daughter, Phyllis, and they made me ever so welcome, they were really nice people. I joined the choir, and Mr. Bales(?) was our choirmaster, several of us joined, there was no messing about because we had the grown up men who worked in the office, in the choir, and we looked up to them. We were allowed out Wednesday afternoons and Saturday afternoons, to go into Thetford or Bury. To go to Thetford was fair enough, but to go to Bury we had trot up to the Hall, and ask the Housekeeper, Mrs Morris, if we were allowed to go and she would say 'Yes' or 'No' all depending on the mood she was in, she was quite nice to me - they always used to send me up to ask because she always used to say yes to me.

We had some lovely times at the Elveden Village Hall with the dances, and all the lovely little bands that used to come. Mr. Fanthorpe from Dereham, was in one of the bands, which was very nice for me because I knew him. Eva and Jim were always at the dances. We weren't very friendly with the housemaids, we didn't get on so well with the housemaids as we did with the kitchen maids.

We used to cycle into Thetford on a Wednesday afternoon, and have a couple of hours there, and in the evening we could go out until half past nine.

The work was very, very hard I don't think I would have stayed if Eva hadn't been there, then I met Don so that made things as bit better, we used to go out, three or four of us, to the pictures, so that was nice.

We lived in the Laundry Cottage, Eva and I shared a room, Elsie had a room and Gertrude had the front bedroom. My days work would commence when she (Gertrude) would knock on my door at six then I had to scrap up, go down and take her a cup of hot water up, make the tea and we all had a cup of tea; the others would get up and go into the wash house and I would have to clean the kitchen up and clean the stove, and make the breakfast, which consisted of a half a round of fried bread, a slice of streaky bacon, and a cup of tea, and we didn't have anything else until half past twelve when we went in for our dinner. We weren't allowed a cup of tea or anything between those times. We would break at five o'clock for tea for a quarter of an hour, and then go back sometimes; definitely if we were ironing. When the shooting season was on we'd be in there till ten or half past ten at night, ironing. If it was wash day we would have the hampers from London, and Pyrford, and from Bosham Hut, and they used to bring them in a tumbril (horse drawn) from Thetford Station, to start with, then after a while, they had a green van, Mr. Atkins used bring the hampers in that. The hampers were huge, they used to come into the sort room where there were individual wooden containers and we had to sort all the clothes and linen out into them. Mr. Cousins, was the Laundry Man and he would put all the teacloths, rubbers,(cloths) and some of them were terrible from the kitchen, they really were dirty, into a big washing machine with all the servants' sheets. We used to have to hand wash lots of the things. If things weren't clean when they came out of the washer we used to have to scrub them again with green soap, and I've had my fingers bleed, run with blood, through scrubbing so hard for such a long time, but when I said to the Head Laundry Maid I think I shall tell my mother and I'll have to go home, I can't stick this, she would say, 'Shut up and get on with it!' and that's what she was like.

I'd start at about half past seven in the wash-house because I was the under one, the others started about half past six, and sometimes before. We washed in a row of tubs, like horse troughs, and we stood on pallets over a concrete floor. It was very, very cold, there were six windows in there, and the skylight was always open , really bitterly cold, and we washed and washed. The Head Laundry Maid she was there with us, of course, but she did all the nice clean things, for the Lords and Ladies - underwear and that and Eva did Lord Elveden's, and Elsie and I did the others - the cooks, all the maids, and their little caps and aprons and what not, the cook's apron and big white coats and hats. Soda went into our big tubs. The water came from a boiler heated by steam that Mr. Cousins used to look after. We cut up soap and put it in with the soda into the copper(one of two huge coppers) and it used to boil and boil, then you took them out of there and put them into the rinsing water, and then out of the rinsing water into the 'blue' water then through a little mangle. We used to have lines outside on the big drying green where we had to hang it out. In the winter we've had the sheets out on the line and they've been frozen when we got them in. We had a dryer in the laundry there were rails inside, which you could pull out on runners and you would hang all the clothes over that, the sheets and everything and push them back in and they would dry. I remember being so cold that I would stand on one and they'd push me in and that used to warm me up then they'd pull me out again. We would stand in the laundry hours on end ironing, and there was a tortoise stove to heat the flat irons, including a polishing iron which the head, second and third laundry maids used to use to polish the collars and they looked beautiful when they were done, they really looked lovely. Everything was checked, if anything was wrong you were given it back to iron again. The Head Laundry Maid checked everything before it was packed away in the hampers to be returned to the London house or wherever. The floor in the laundry was wooden, and we had to scrub that on our hands and knees every week, three of us scrubbing and I think we'd have twelve buckets of water, if not more, to clean that floor. We had to scrub the verandah(tiled) clean the windows, in the house part. Mr. Cousins had to see to all the wash-house part. We had no bathroom in the house, so we had to bath in a long tub in the wash-house, we had to stand on a chair to get into the bath, we had to get the water out of the copper, and put in a handful of soda; the skylight was always open and so that was bitterly cold. We'd run out of the wash-house, through the sorting room along the verandah into the house.

But we had some lovely times really, we worked very, very hard but we had some enjoyable times there.

There were lots of things going on in the village hall at that time, there were several of us then and younger people in the village that would come. There were the laundry maids, the kitchen maids, the housemaids, the boys that lived in the village, and later on we had the Airforce, the RAF servicemen who used to join us from Barnham. We had some lovely times there, all very happy. Later on we started the whist drives - we used to have the whist first and then after the whist at half past ten, they would all come in for the dance - that was really, very nice, we looked forward to that, and that was very regular. We had a very good cricket team in Elveden, lots of boys, young boys, who used to work their way up into the Elveden Team, you couldn't just walk in, they really had to work at it, and we had some very good cricketers. I used to help Mrs. Atkins with the teas, and we used to have a marquee on the pitch in the Park; we had a stove and Wilfred Layte used to keep the stove going to boil the water to make the tea. We had tables and chairs and forms all round this marquee; everybody enjoyed coming to Elveden, it was such a lovely place. Then they started up a concert party, and it really took off. The boys all joined in and worked hard; it was always packed, we always had a full house, Mr. (E.G.) Turner was one of the head ones and Mr. Atkins, they were the top ones in the cricket. Mr. Turner was secretary and treasurer for many years. Mr. Christopher helped, he was a good cricketer and Leonard Spruce and the Blowers, (Reg and Harold) it was lovely. The girls from the laundry and the Hall really enjoyed anything like that because there was nowhere else to go and nothing else to do, only to join in with the fun which we did. Mr. Broadly used to come out and help us with the cricket concerts, he was a hairdresser in Thetford, he was very tall and he used to do the song 'The Lady in Red'. He looked really lovely in his long red gown, and with feathers in his hair. Young or old took part, Mr. Atkins and Mr. Turner paired up and sang, 'There's a Hole in my Bucket' and 'The Lower Five and the Upper Ten.'

They also worked out a little song beginning: 'We are the boys of Old Elden, Old Elden, the boys you can't beat at all..

About this time the war broke out and Don was called up. I'd been going with Don then about 18 months, we got engaged at Christmas and he went off and he never came back until the end of the war. He was taken prisoner in Belgium and I never saw Don any more until 1945. It was ages before we heard anything, then his mum and granny heard that he was missing and then a card came through to say he was a prisoner of war; he was in Stalag 20, with several of his mates. I used to get a card perhaps every six months and his mother and granny used to get one at other times, it was a long, long time before we heard. Mr. Dow was the agent then, I should have been called up but I was allowed to stay as I was working at the Laundry but in the end I had to go and I chose to go in the WAAF, I was called up in 1941/42. I went to Bridgenorth I was sorry to leave Elveden but I knew I'd rather go in the WAAF's than anything else; I didn't want to go into a factory. I knew what I could do best and I thought that would be to try and become a Batwoman, they said there wasn't such a thing. I thought that if there were Batmen then I could be a Batwoman. I went up to Morpeth in Northumberland where I did my training; I passed out as a Batwoman! Whilst there I met Ruth Pye, a girl from the village, doing her course as a waitress, we didn't see a lot of one another as she was in one part and I in another.

The Officers' Mess was in a beautiful nursing home, it had a wonderful staircase, us girls used to get on it at the top and slide down to the bottom, on the bannister.

I looked after two officers there. We were told that we could be posted, they asked me to stay but I said I would like to get nearer home, I put in for Swanton Morley, Dereham. I was one of the very lucky ones, we all sat in this big hall and I remember the officer saying, WAAF Baxter you are posted to Swanton Morley and I said 'Oh, thank you Ma'am.' and she said 'Don't thank me, thank the Headquarters.'

I came to Swanton Morley, it was a lovely 'drome, with a beautiful officers' mess, I was taken to where the Batmen were , there were four Batmen. I was the only Batwoman, I was called into the WAAF Officer's office and she said that you are here on trial, you are the first Batwoman here and it all depends on you if any others follow, you'll be here six weeks and we will then see if we have any more Batwomen. I was given the Squadron Leader Admin to look after, he was an Irishman, he was very strict, but I liked him and got on very well with him. He had his own sitting room, bedroom and bathroom. Then I was approached by Wing Commander Tate to look after him, then another Squadron Leader, and in the end I was looking after seven. They were all just like my family and treated me as if I was family. When the war was over in 1945 and Don came home, I was still in the WAAF's he used to bike, each week, to Swanton Morley from Elveden, and then I was transferred to Fersfield, so he had a bit further to travel.

We got married on 29th September, 1945. The wedding was in Dereham, Flight Lieutenant Spiller, one of my officers, gave me away. We settled down in Elveden at a flat in The Stables. I had lived with Don's granny and granddad and Aunt Dolly until the flat was ready. In the meantime I went to help at the laundry, then we moved into the flat at The Stables and we were very happy there. I worked for thirty-two years for the Lloyd family, Ron Lloyd was the Estate Vet. I am still in touch with all the family, they have been wonderful friends to me. We moved in 1954 to 68 Cross Roads, and that house had been in Don's family since it was built , sadly I left in 1999 and came to live in this cottage, the same one that Aunt Dolly had moved into after leaving No.68. The Cross family had been in the house for more than one hundred years. In November 1946, our son Stewart was born, and he went to the village school. Stewart worked at Lamberts Garage in Thetford, as an apprentice motorcycle engineer, he loved it, but Lamberts gave up the motorcycles and he didn't want to work on cars, he worked in the Norwich Road Garage for a time, but didn't like it. Out of the blue one day he came home and said, "I've been to see Mr. Harrison in the office!" and Don and I couldn't believe our ears, because he'd never said anything about this. He said, "I'm starting in the Clerk of the Works next Monday!" He was twenty - one, and he's been there ever since. Its lovely to have him in the village, my sister, Eva lives here and Don's cousin, Gillian and her husband Neville. Gillian has spent a lot of her time in Elveden, going backwards and forwards over the early years, until she married Neville who has lived here all his life. I've also got Pat and Robert, (Eva's son and daughter -in-law) and that's lovely to have us all together in the village. Stewart is married to a lovely girl, Geraldine, and they both take great care of me.

Oh! I forgot to mention my association with the British Legion. When I first came to Elveden, Don, my husband, was a member of the Icklingham Branch, so I joined there because they had a Women's Section. Later in 1946 we formed a Women's Section in Elveden. The men also formed a Branch. I became Standard Bearer. I had some wonderful outings to the Albert Hall and to all the rallies round about. Stewart was looked after by his Granny and Aunt to allow me to visit the different places I had to go to carry the Standard. The men's branch Standard Bearer was Fred Trett and we got on very well together, when he had to give up due to ill health, Cliff Thirtle took over and he is still the men's branch Standard Bearer. I carried the Standard for 27 years, then I thought it was only fair to let a younger person take over. We had another girl in the village, Elizabeth Glister, who had been in the WRNS and she was willing to take over, so with great sadness I handed the Standard over to her, but I had some wonderful times and wonderful memories. We carried the Standard at funerals, and on many different occasions. We had some staunch members, especially Nancy Cooper who was our secretary and a great friend of mine for many years; they all supported the Legion such a lot. We raised a lot of money to share out among the different charities; the British Legion Welfare Schemes, and also collected for Poppy Day. We always attended Remembrance Day services. We have a most beautiful church and we were proud to carry the standard in it. With great sadness I am sorry to say that we shall probably have to disband in the year 2000 because all the members are getting so old and there are no young ones to take over."

Doris has been a very active member of the community and has been on several committees over the years, she is currently a member of the Elveden Parochial Church Council.

The Laundry Dryer
This brick built white glazed tiled housing contained 6 heavy tubular steel frames approximately 10/12' high. Each frame had several rails across it on which to hang the linen, clothing, etc. At the top of each frame was a tongue which located into a groove on the underside of the concrete roof of the housing. A wheel was positioned at the front and the back of the base of each frame and these ran on grooves cut into the floor which extended out into the room. Hot, steam-filled pipes which ran beneath the floor under the housing were covered by a grid which allowed heat to come through to dry the items in the dryer; the steam from the drying clothes escaped through a chimney in the housing to the outside of the building.

Alan Edward CousinsSimply click to view spoken memories

Alan & Joyce Cousins > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to return"My full name is Alan Edward Cousins, I was born on 15th June, 1928, at 76 Cross Roads, Elveden.

My dad's name was Ernest, and my mother's name was Nellie, nee Burrows, she came from Framlingham. I was married to Joyce nee Hooper, whose mother was Mary Sharpe, born in Elveden, Mary had three brothers, Charlie, Frank and Jack. I have a son David, who now lives in Norwich, he is married to Ann, they have two daughters, Emma and Rachel.

I moved up to the Dell in 1935, when my dad went to work in the private laundry nearby. My father, Ernest Cousins, was in charge of the laundry boiler(stationary steam engine) doing the stoking and maintenance, as well as polishing the brass and copper pipes, taps, and fittings, which he did every week. He also had the job of filling the coppers, conveying the laundry in huge wicker baskets between the laundry and the Hall; mowing the drying grounds, and scrubbing floors. There was a washing machine[Pic] which he used to be in charge of to do the 'rough' washing (i.e. towels, overalls, teacloths , aprons, etc.) Everything else was done by hand by the laundry maids. It was really hard work.

Before that my dad had been odd man and night watchman at the Hall. Dad was born in Thetford, we moved first into the wooden bungalow (No.18 The Dell) which was built for the people who erected the Hall. That was their site office and living quarters. In 1939 we moved to 22a The Dell, which some people call Dairy Cottage and that's where we were when the war broke out. It was the dairy where the milk and cheese and everything was done for the Hall.

In 1942 I can remember the Americans coming into the Park because all the Park, all round the Reading Room, Water Tower, Lily Pond, and football pitch, were huts. They had their cookhouse and their recreation place [click to Aero club pic](Aero Club) up where the [Pic Reading Room]Reading Room is, we used to go to the pictures every night of the week, us boys, there were two rows reserved for us in the front. We went to all the functions, that were going. On Sundays, there used to be a doughnut van come round, we always used to go and get 'loaded up'; so we lived quite well, really, considering there was a war on.

We'd mainly see the aircraft in the mornings, the sky was full of them; the B17 Fortresses, B24 Liberators, all lining up ready to go across to Germany. The fighters were the B51 Mustangs, B38 Lightnings, which the Germans nick-named the Forked Devil because it had a twin fuselage, and also the B47 Thunderbolts. I was very interested, I was more or less brought up with aircraft , we used to cycle round all the air bases where we were allowed to go and have a look.

We used to go around the dustbins in the Park, to see what had been thrown away, but we were given quite a lot of different things ourselves, but usually there was somebody who'd been there before us children got there.

Oh yes, I remember when I first started work for Mr. Budden, who used to own the little garage next to the Village Hall, a Flying Fortress came over there one day, and had one engine on fire, he crash landed just past Summerpit Farm up near where the (Bury Road) water tower is, they were hunting round for the crew, in the woods and the forestry, because some of them had bailed out. They couldn't find the rear gunner, they eventually found him, he was still in the turret, in the plane, he lost his life, I'm afraid.

And there was also a British Wellington, (on the way back from Germany) I remember, which came from RAF Mildenhall, he wasn't very far from home and ran out of fuel and crashed on the Golf Course. [see Alex Jones Story].

I went to the village school, the teacher I remember was Mrs. Broom, when we first started, as time went on she left and a Mrs. Brearley took over, she lived at the school house. After I left school I went to work for Mr. Budden for a little while, roughly about a year. Then we had a disagreement, I'm afraid. I got myself another job in Thetford, with Allisons bus company, which is now Coach Services, when they were situated at White Hart Street, and I was there with them until I got called up for the forces, which was 1946 - National Service. I spent roughly eight months in this country then I spent the rest of my time in Germany. I went all over the place Hanover, Hamburg, Berlin; I finished up for the last six months in Berlin. I was in the Royal Norfolk regiment. I started off in the Suffolks and I was bound for Palestine, but I had a slight accident - I fell out of the back of a truck, I wasn't drunk! I grazed my arm and they crossed me off the Palestine list because they said in the heat it would most probably never heal and that's when I got transferred to the Norfolks. I was demobbed in August 1948.

I took over the work in the laundry from my dad, Mr. Dow the agent at the time said, "Well I don't know who else to get up there, you've been with your father most of your life and during your holidays, give it a try and see how you get on." I was there for thirteen years, until the laundry gradually got less and less and in the end it was shut down. Then I was asked where I'd like to go and I said I'd like to go on the works department, I finished up mainly painting; inside decorating, outside painting, till I retired when I was sixty five.

I married Joyce in 1954 and we lived at 22a The Dell with my mother, because I lost my dad early on. Joyce, when she first came to Elveden worked in the gardens near the Water Tower, with the gardener Mr. Jim Brown. Then that closed down and she went to work as a servant down the Old Rectory, for Lady Elizabeth More O'Ferrall.

Joyce's mum was Mary Sharpe and she and her three brothers, Jack, Charlie and Frank were born at Chalkhall. Joyce's grandfather Sharpe was a horseman, he had previously lived at Old Elden. Mary Sharpe married a Birmingham man. How it came about: there were soldiers, in the First World War, stationed where the forestry is at Thetford now, she met her husband there and they got married. She moved back to Birmingham with him, where Joyce was born. Joyce's dad was the publican of first 'The Swan' and then the 'Rose and Crown.' Joyce used to come down to stay with her granny at the Cottage Homes, and that's where I met her.

Going back to the wartime, mainly little things that you bear in your mind, I remember where the fuel store was, coke and coal, opposite the Reading Room, and there was a little fellow there, if you asked him how he was he'd always say, 'miserable'. In fact he was a coal merchant in the States before he got called up. He was a lovely little chap, there was an elderly lady called Mrs. Sadler who lived in a cottage nearby, and he looked after her all during the war, doing odds and ends.

I can remember in the Park, there was a Guard Hut just at the bottom of the hill from the Hall and they stopped Lord Iveagh one night, and he was most annoyed to be held up in his own village, and there used to be another one near the Game Larder gates. We got to know them very well, the chaps in there.

I took over as Secretary of the Cricket Club from Mr. Edward Turner, and I did it for ten years, then in about 1973 I was approached and asked if I

would, temporarily, take over the Secretary's job of the Village Produce Association, well it's now year 2000 and I'm still secretary.

Going once again to the American Occupation, I can remember that the Stables was what the Americans called their 'Motor Pool', all their wrecks of cars, of which there were several, used to be parked round by the Water Tower, and I'm not ashamed to say this, but I'm afraid that's where I got most of my tools from, because they always left their tools in the toolboxes - the cars had been abandoned there. Not that I'm a crook!

Oh! and the WACS were stationed around the Water Tower, that was their quarters, all round the pond. In fact one of them, probably the youngest one there, she was our church organist and I've never known a choir so big, as it was then. We used to go to the American Padre for our choir practice and we always used to be loaded up with sweets and goodies and chocolates, I'm afraid the number of choirboys increased considerably.

They used to put a barrier across the road, near the Hall when they took their flag down, roughly at 4.30 in the afternoon, I came riding along and sort of cocky-like, I leant up against the barrier - never got off my bike, and when the ceremony was over, a Major came up to me and said, "Why didn't you get off your bike and stand to attention?" I said ,"Well I'm afraid that's not my flag." Which I suppose wasn't very nice of me, but he annoyed me, because half his own fellas were hid up behind a tree sitting down on the grass!

I know we always used to laugh at my dad 'cos we had the Home Guard here as well, and everybody had been issued with rifles, all except my dad, I was most annoyed about that, (they used to practise with broom handles). However, eventually, he did get his rifle. Their HQ was at the Water Tower (before the Americans arrived) which was where one of 'Dad's Army' episodes was done. Dad used to do all the cooking for them when they were on duty, and they also used to go fire watching at the Tower because you get a good view from up there. There was also a British Army search light up the Brandon Road, and an ack-ack gun and every time any enemy plane came over it used to seem to conk out, the gun wouldn't work. I think eventually they did, more or less, hit one, not to bring it down but damaged it - that was the British Army that was! In the village hall the Home Guard used to have lectures, and on this particular night, they were practising with the Bren Gun, taking it to pieces and putting it back together again. One of the sergeants (Ernie Turner) said to my dad ,"You're done that wrong!" and my dad said, "Well, here yar then do the bloody thing yourself!" So that was the discipline in the Home Guard.

Another memory of the Americans was: all the bombs used to come to the Barnham railway station, and they used to transport them from there by lorry, through Elveden and up to Warren Wood where the bomb store was. On front of the lorries they'd got 'NO SMOKING WITHIN TEN YARDS' and you'd see the driver sitting there with a master great cigar on, smoking away.

Regarding the transportation of the bombs - the Americans would take the corner from the London Road to the Brandon Road very quickly, they always were quick drivers, and some of the bombs used to roll off, mind you, they weren't fused, but they used to leave them there until they'd finished for the day, then a crane used to come along and pick up the remaining bombs and take them up to the bomb dump.

Another thing I can remember, this wasn't the Americans, this was a squadron of Canadian Tanks, Sherman Tanks actually. They came down the London Road from Thetford, turned right to go to Brandon, then turned left and went past our letterbox and up to where the playing field is now, to spend the night. As they went round the corner every one tapped the letter box, in the end there was no letterbox left, it was squashed! I remember that very well. Later they let us have a look inside the tanks.

After I came out of the army I used to go down the pub and have a little tipple, and I used to stand and watch the domino players, and I tried and tried my hardest to get in the team, anyhow they said, "Oh no, you're not good enough!", anyhow one night they were waiting for one of their regulars to come in and I said , "Should I join you?" They said, "NOO, he'll be here p'raps in a bit." In the end they said, "O come on then, but look what you're doing, don't mess about, turning around talking to people!" Anyhow, I had a good partner, Tom Trayes, he was a very meticulous player, I was fortunate to be his partner. I was shaking at the knees thinking, shall I make a mess of this. Anyhow, we won! After that I never had any more trouble getting into the domino team. The other members were Bill Paul, Jimmy Turner, and Wilfred Bowers, and that was Wilfred Bowers who didn't turn up. Wilfred often told a tale of how he'd captained a team against Eriswell or Icklingham and had forced a draw when the other team only needed one run to win.

The Americans had their hospital between the Dell and the back of the Hall, in fact I got treated there myself, one night. As I was walking along the path by the Shamrock Pond, on the way to church, somebody threw a stone which unlucky for me hit me on the head - so I went to the Americans for treatment. I've still got the scar!

But, all in all we had a good time, that's a funny thing to say when there was a war on, but we did."

Phyllis Lilian FlackSimply click to view spoken memories

Phyllis Flack > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to return"I was born in Magdelene Street, Thetford on August, 16th 1915. We moved to Brandon, and from Brandon, we moved to Elveden, to a thatched cottage in 'Old Elveden' as it was called then.( a group of cottages, now demolished, at the end of the track still called 'Old Elden' which passes in front of the grain dryer). My mother's name was Alice Dyer and she came from Newmarket and my dad's name was Frederick John (always known as Peter). My dad was a warrener, he used to go out catching the rabbits. 

I remember him taking his ferrets and his dogs and going off on his bicycle, and remember him coming home with all his rabbits on a big stick, across his bicycle, he used to take all the insides out and bury them in a hole. Mr and Mrs. Layte lived in the two cottages just behind us. All the cottages have been taken down now, but we had a wonderful time up there. We were a very happy crowd. I remember Wilfred Layte pretending to be the parson, giving us lessons and we were at church, you know! It was really lovely. We lived next door to the Lovacks and when they moved old Mr. Neal came up. I remember we used to go and pick the cones up or 'deal apples' we called them, to heat the water in the copper, to have a bath or wash. We used to fetch the water from the well down the garden, the cottages all shared this well, we had to bring all these buckets of water to heat in the copper, we bathed in a big zinc bath in front of the fire, once a week. 

We changed our clothes once a week, I'm sure, that's true because we only had wash-days on Mondays in those days, because it was such a business. All the water had to fetched up from the well, it was hard work. You had the old flat iron that used to be heated on the top of the range, oh gosh, when you think about it. That was the only form of heating we had, your range, on which you cooked, boiled your water, did everything. And I remember tearing up squares of newspaper and threading them on a string to hang in the lavatory for our toilet paper! Our toilet was right outside in a shed in the back garden, if we had to walk out at night, you'd have candle or sometimes a lantern, which father used to fix up for us to take with us. We used to have to dig a big hole in the garden and empty the bucket every so often. Sawdust was put in a box at the back of the wooden lavatory 'seat'which was situated over the bucket, you pulled a thing at the back and the sawdust came down into the bucket!! (laughter).

We weren't allowed in the front room, only on a Sunday, because that was kept ever so prim and proper but on Sunday we were allowed to go and sit in the there. Black-lead stoves, they were horrible to keep clean weren't they? I always thought the food tasted better though, beautiful, we practically lived on rabbits, and hares and pheasants. Father used to bring them home, and they'd go egging and bring them home, mother used to make an omelette or scrambled egg, good old days! Mother used to do the rabbit in the oven she used to cut it up, make lovely gravy, put bay leaves in - I can remember that as if it were yesterday! And the lovely yorkshire puddings, no wonder I'm fat! (chuckle) I think we were far happier than some of them are these days! We only had the back kitchen, front room and two bedrooms, but a very big pantry, I remember you had to go up about three steps to get into this beautiful pantry. Then eventually we moved up to Chalkhall, in a part of the big house; there we had a little back kitchen place with a copper; a pantry, a living room, a sitting room and three bedrooms, but that was much, much bigger. Then we moved further down into the cottages to 99 Chalkhall, I was married from there in 1938, to Charles George Flack, from Sketchfar Cottages. There were eleven of them in the family, where on earth they all slept I don't know, yet they were all healthy. Charlie's sister Dorothy is still alive and lives in Bury, I do chat to her sometimes. I have two children Ann and Ian, Ann has two daughters, they each have two little girls and Ian has two sons, and a grand-daughter so I have five great-grand-daughters now, they're gorgeous. (chuckle).

My grandfather, Bill Trett, was the Head Carpenter, here, he used to do all the funerals, he'd go to the house with the coffin and put the body in the coffin and it stayed in the house until the funeral. Then he'd bring the bier, the men would pull it and take it up to the church. I remember my grandfather laying in our front room, old grandfather Dyer, my mother's father. Grandfather Trett used to walk here from Brandon before he went to live at 67 Cross Roads, my grandmother, Elizabeth Dickerson, was a lovely lady, she had been a ladie's maid. There were six of us, Vera, Fred, Dorothy, Evelyn, Les and myself. I was the eldest. I remember when we went to school we had to wear pinnies (full length white starched aprons, almost like sleeveless dresses - clothes were nearly all home-made). We had to walk all the way from Old Elveden (Elden)down to school. If my sister, Vera's, pinny wasn't ironed properly, she wouldn't go to school until it was ready! I loved school, all the time I was there. The teachers were Miss Drew, headmistress and Nellie and Olive Rolph they are the only ones that I remember. In the school there were three rooms, the middle room was for the older children, the first room you went into was for the infants, and the far room was for children about seven or eight. I left school when I was fourteen - left school in July and went to work straight away. I loved it, I worked at the Post Office, did the housework and everything in general and I absolutely loved it. I stayed there until I got married. Mr. Plumb had the Post Office and John Plumb, his son, still comes to see me every year. He comes to see me when he goes down to the Thetford Grammar School for the re-union. They also had a daughter, Elsie. Before then I remember Mr. Flook having the Post Office before they moved to the Cottage Homes. The Cornell's had it after that, because I used to go up and help Mrs. Cornell do some housework sometimes. All I've ever done is housework, (chuckle) but I loved everywhere I went. I worked up at the Hall from 1960 - 1972, and I just loved it! I love housework, I don't like washing up!

We had a wonderful time, I thought, when the war was on! Some of the men stayed with me, the ones in the RAF, we never went short of anything! We used to get presents, I remember when Ian was born, one of the Americans brought me a lovely bouquet of flowers. They were stationed round at the Game Larder at that time. I think we had a happy time during the war. I'm sure we did. I've had loads of lodgers over the years, Salvation Army, Land Army girls, Forestry Students, had them all I really enjoyed having them Sue was the last one I had, she was in the Forestry. Landgirls, Irene, Muriel, Doris Turner. I loved cooking, which makes a difference, you've got to be able to cook. Mrs. Whitney, her husband lodged with me at Rectory Cottage, she came and stayed with me when her husband was in the RAF, and she's now ninety and I hear from her every Christmas. I lived at Rectory Cottage from 1938 until 1946. I lived in the cottage where Reg now lives, and the other side was a garage and stables, and a big loft, now that's been made into a cottage. I've been at the Cross Roads since 1946.

I remember Mr. Lynch being the Rector, he was a bachelor, and my friend, Joan Wilson, who I still hear from, her mother was housekeeper to Mr. Lynch. Then Olive, her sister came and was the schoolmistress here, and came to the School House. Joan married in 1939 in King's Lynn and she still lives there. I remember the Reverend and Mrs. Sharpe. Mr. Napier married me, and we were the first ones he married when he came here. He gave me an ivory prayer book with the date inside. We married at Chalkhall, we had a big marquee on the meadow, we had a hundred and odd guests. I remember we got our meat from Gentle's the butchers, a big ham to slice up. How we afforded it I don't know! I've often thought how did we afford to have that lovely reception, but we did. We went off to Hitchin for our honeymoon, but we had to go on the bus, because we hadn't got cars in those days (chuckle).

In my time I belonged to the W.I., the British Legion, the Silver Slipper, we did concert parties earlier, I was only about 17, Hilda Roper and I played 'Laurel and Hardy', Much later, in 1977, I remember going back on the stage when some of us got together to put on a show to celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee, I played Britannia and wore a Fireman's helmet that had belonged to the old Elveden Fire brigade, many years ago. I was Silver Slipper mad! - (laugh) I've still got my evening dresses, all sorts, I wouldn't part with them, they all hang upstairs in the cupboard! There was Charlie Paul, Reg Blower and others - I used to dance with all of them. I only sat here the other day and thought, well I never took a partner with me, I always used to walk up with Olive Sharpe, or somebody, but I always got a partner. They used to tell me although I was big I was very light on my feet. Some couldn't dance! Evelyn used to go in latter years after she'd met Peter. I used to go with Olive and Lucy Speed, we were all friends. A busload of us used to go all over the place, my husband never came. He was a very keen cricketer and footballer, he played nearly all his life didn't he? He played for Thetford Town and then he played for Bury Town. He broke his leg in the October after we were married and got better and played football again. Charlie worked in the sawmill, and then when we moved here he was put in charge of the Grain Dryer. Ian worked with his dad, ever since he left school he's worked in there. Now he's helping with the pigs.

My family were all born close to each other, there were six of us born within a space of fifteen years, but we managed, mothers never seemed to bother, they seemed to just look after us and get on with us and everything was fine."

Agnes Selina KybirdSimply click to view spoken memories

Agnes Kybird > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to return"I came to Elveden in 1934 as a housemaid at Elveden Hall, I lived in the Hall in the servants' quarters. I was there for three years before I was married to Fred (Kybird) then I went back part time. I was there till the Hall closed at the beginning of the war.

In the shooting season you would have to get up at half past four in the morning, to clean all the grates and get all cleaned up on the ground floor before the people got up. Then you had a half an hour for your breakfast and to make your own bed, and then you just made beds and cleaned rooms. You used to have put all the hot water bottles in about ten o'clock at night and then you were free. On Sunday during your time off you had to go to church and back, the next week your day off would be Saturday, and you would leave Elveden at one o'clock and you'd have to be back at nine o'clock at night, that was your day off. Saturday one week and Sunday the next.

You were met at Thetford station for your interview, one requirement was that you had to be Church of England, and you had to attend church, oh yes. I left Cockley Cley Hall to come here because it was more money, but it was much harder work. My jobs at the Hall included making up beds, cleaning up fireplaces and dusting. There were five housemaids in the shooting season which was from October to February. There were four housemaids for the rest of the year during which time you had to spring clean the Hall.

At the beginning of the war the Tottenham Nursery School was evacuated to the servants' quarters in Elveden Hall, where I used to go and help to mend the children's clothes. Mr. Dow's daughter-in-law, Ian Dow's wife (Kirky?), was one of the teachers and I am still in touch with Peggy Iles nee Dow, Mr. Dow's daughter. Some of the mothers from London used to come down from time to time to help clean up and look after the children. I think the children were there for a few months. (Mr. Dow was the Estate Agent at that time). I can't tell you how many children were there, there were cots upon cots all round the bottom floor. One of the children's mothers and us used to do the mending. On the South Lawn there's a great big tree, isn't there? One day I found I'd lost my wedding ring, well Kirky, as we used to call her, took the little children out there one day and you wouldn't believe it but they found my wedding ring under that tree, she pointed out what a wedding ring was and told them that I had lost it - but that's where it was found, marvellous wasn't it under a big tree like that? So when I see that tree I often think of that. They gave me a nice jug when they left.

After the war I had my family Avril and Barry. I didn't go out to work until they were at school. Fred, my husband, was a bricklayer on the Estate, he was brought up by an Aunt and Uncle who lived in Elveden, their name was Belsham. Mrs. Weedon's mother and Fred's mother were sisters. They lived at 74 Cross Roads, and that's where I went to live after I got married. Mrs. Weedon, (nee Belsham) went to school at the Reading Room, because that was where the school was then.

I went on the land a little bit, I went in the nursery, and also carrot picking, I went with Cissie (Turner), that was after the war, yes it would be, it's a long way to go back isn't it? The nursery was in the Contract (field) up the Bury Road. My daughter Avril is married to Terry Banham and they have two children, Shirley and Stuart and Barry is married to Patsy and they have Scott and Sean. Avril and Terry live in Old Buckenham and Barry and Patsy live in Lakenheath. I have five great grandchildren, three boys and two girls. Fred worked on the Estate from the age of fourteen, he died when he was 57.

I was churchwarden, I can't exactly tell you the time I was churchwarden but Neville's dad was the person who put me on the Council (P.C.C.) but looking through an old magazine I found out that I was a sidesman, collecting the money, and on that date in 1956, I was sidesman with your Uncle Arthur (Turner). I took over as churchwarden after Edwin (Turner) got killed, in 1984. Edwin had taken over from Mr. E.G. Turner when he retired. We (Aggie and E.G. Turner) collected a lot of paper and wool for the church didn't we? We made a lot of money in those days, it was worth it. Well, in those days of course we had lots of jumble sales to raise money for the church because people were in need of things , but now of course, those days are gone aren't they? We did work hard in those days.

I went to the Old Rectory and worked for Lady Elizabeth (More O'Ferrall) then Fred was taken ill with cancer and I had to give up because we were the caretakers of the Estate Office and I had to spend more time helping there and looking after Fred. After Fred died I left the Estate Office Cottage and came to this cottage as I was a bit lonely round the Estate Office on my own. Then I gave up the Estate Office caretaking job and went to work in the shop(Post Office) for five years. Then, later, they asked me to go back to work in the Estate Office again, to make the tea, in all I made the tea and coffee in the office for over twenty-five years, I stayed there until three years ago in April. (1997)".

Agnes was on the Elveden Parochial Church Council and a church sidesman for many years, she was also Churchwarden for several years.

Agnes loves her garden and does a great deal of crochet work. Fred Kybird, Agnes' husband, was a fine craftsman and able to turn his hand to many things. He made many beautiful wooden toys, including lorries and railway engines, which were large enough for a child to ride on. Agnes is looking forward to the birth of her sixth great grandchild in December.

Pamela RoperSimply click to view spoken memories

Pam Roper > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to return"I'm Pam Roper and I live at The Stables, in Elveden. I came here in 1939 at the age of seventeen, as a landgirl. I was living in London when the war broke out I was in church, with my family. When we left church the sirens went, we were quite horrified that we hadn't got our gas masks with us, thinking that we might promptly be gassed; we thought there was an air raid, and we might be bombed. But we finally got home all right. At teatime that day we had the wireless on, and there was a recruiting programme, saying they needed women or girls for the Land Army, the Army and the Air Force, and the Navy. I said, "I would like to join the land army." Nobody was very impressed, but my mother said, "Why don't you, if that's what you'd like?" So without any more ado, the next day, after I'd finished work at Chester Square, I wandered off up to Victoria Street, to a very tatty little office, and I joined the land army. They took me on because I looked fairly healthy, although I wasn't of age, eighteen should have been the age and I was seventeen. They equipped me with a pair of navy dungarees and a pair of shiny black boots, as they hadn't yet got round to making uniforms; with a promise of a uniform. I was to start in about two or three weeks. My employer decided to sack me straight away because they'd put a lot of work into training me and they decided that they didn't want me. This was not allowed as the war went on, this was an illegal thing to do, but in the beginning of the war they did it. So I was two weeks without work, so I was quite pleased when I was called up to come to Elveden. I could have gone to Jersey picking up potatoes, but I preferred the thought of Elveden with the dairy cows.

When I arrived at Thetford station, where I was told to wait, they couldn't have landgirls running about all over the place; all over the country. I waited and waited and nobody arrived to pick me up so I decided that I would return on the next train, if nobody wanted me, I knew where I would be wanted. At the last minute, Ian Dow came puffing into the station - (laugh) he was puffing into the station too, very red faced , he'd picked up the wrong landgirl and taken her to Elveden only to find that she should have been at Croxton. So he had to deliver her to Croxton, and come back for me.

First we went to East Lodge, where I was going to lodge, to leave my luggage and then went down to the Estate Office to see Mr. Dow. At East Lodge, there was Mr. and Mrs. Roper and their son Leonard. The next morning Bert Roper lent me his bike, so I could go down to Redneck (Farm), where this dairy herd of Guernsey cows were. It was very nice down there, I liked the cows, I'd like to have stayed there, but, I had to do a month on the farm, with all various jobs to get the idea of farm work. The first place I went to,was in front of Chalk Hall, lifting sugar beet. Jack Turner was there and I was supposed to help Jack. He was very, very patient. I'd never done anything so hard as this before, it was awful, my wrists got swollen, my back nearly broke, but after being fixed up with wrist bands by Bert Roper, and after a few night's sleep I got quite used to it - another job was cutting kale. Mr. Ebbage (Charlie), had a lovely Suffolk Punch at Redneck, and we used to pile ourselves into a tumbrel, with a reap hook and a stone, and go to cut kale. Two rows either side - the horse and cart went up the middle, between the rows. I was all done up with a sack round my middle and one round my shoulders, all fastened with a home-made safety pin, and wearing a bright yellow sou'wester, all this supplied by Bert. I then became known as 'Daffodil', because of my bright yellow sou'wester. After having done my stint on the farm, I was able to go back to Redneck where it was all hand milking, very enjoyable I thought. There was Les Clark down there, Frank Hammond and Noah Crosby, we used to get singing in the morning, until Mrs. Dow, who lived in Redneck House, complained that she could not cope with singing at 6 o'clock in the morning. So we toned it down somewhat. I have cause to be very grateful to Les and Frank. One day I had to go and feed a very temperamental bull, Fancy Rose Lad, he was obviously in a bad mood and as I went in he pitched the heavy barn door off its hinges with his horns and stood in front of me, head down, snorting and pawing the ground, pinning me to the wall; he was about to charge when Frank and Les came to my rescue forcing him away with pitchforks and poles. It was a terrifying experience, but I 've lived to tell the tale.

After a while, when the Ropers moved to Chalk Hall, I moved with them and I had the job on the milk cart, taking the milk round to everyone in the village. Kit, the pony, was beautiful, she came from the circus, one of the liberty horses. I could never catch her to get her in off the meadow - well a liberty horse you wouldn't expect to, but just calling 'Kit' she'd come galloping off the field, and pointed in the right direction, she'd be into the stable. The first time I had the job of looking after her, nobody told me anything about horses; I had not got a clue, they just gave me a curry comb and a brush and told me to get on with it. Well I looked at her and she looked at me, it was not a very nice look, at all. I thought, 'Which end to start, the end with the big teeth or the end with the big strong legs at the back?' I decided to start in the middle, (chuckle) She turned round and took a nice big lump out of my rump, and for quite a while I couldn't sit down comfortably, but I was so angry with her, and got hold of her bridle and told her that if she did this again I'd knock the living daylights out of her, we'd got to work together so we might as well start now, and from then on we really became the best of friends. Without knowing the things she could do, she soon showed me - she would walk on her hind legs, and push me along in front of her and nuzzle me with her nose and give me a kiss. She would lift up her foot if she had a stone in her hoof and I could dig it out with a penknife. We got on very well, and also with all the people in the village, they had a very soft spot for the landgirls - all sorts of things they'd think of to give you to eat and drink. Mr. Grey at Summerpit always provided cocoa, with a teaspoonful of raspberry jam, which was - well - I managed to drink it all and Mrs. Lovack at the Cottage Homes, always had a couple of buns and Kit liked them very much, but, Mrs. Sadler, made ginger wine, do you remember it? (laugh) She used to wipe out a glass with her apron and pour this ginger wine. I was very foolish to tell her I liked ginger wine in the first place. Still they were all very kind and I didn't really need any of this food because Mrs. Roper was a very good cook and I was very well cared for.

In 1943 I married Leonard, he had by now gone into the Air Force.

On the milk round, I had great fun at times, at first there were the little tots, little tiny children, from the Tottenham School, I believe they came. They had been evacuated here, they had some young girls to look after them. I used to take a churn of milk to them each morning, they were billeted in the servants' quarters in the Hall. They were here for about six months and then the Gloucesters came (members of the Gloucester Regiment). The Duke of Gloucester was stationed in the Hall, and they were particularly nice. A lot of young men, very, very handsome, most of them. I believe, that the Reading Room was where the M.P's were, a sort of jail, and the Salvation Army hut was opposite it and there used to be quite a gang there, when I used to arrive in the morning, it was great fun really. Unfortunately, these young men had to go to Dunkirk, and I'm afraid a lot of them didn't come back. Very sad. But after that I think we had the Royal Army Service Corps. One day I was bowling happily along in the milk cart, past the Stables, when something hit me, it turned out to be a thimble, a tailor's thimble, with a note in it, asking to meet me by the third oak tree down Tower Lane, at a certain time. I'd love to have gone, I wish to this very day I had, (laugh) but, I had married Leonard by this time and I had a very strict mother-in-law, who frowned upon this sort of thing very much, so I think a lot of fun was stamped out there.

After the Royal Army Service Corps left, I believe it was the Royal Air Force who followed them, they were also billeted here in the Stables, that was all very nice too. But after that came the Americans, and they had huts all over the Park, there were so many of them, and there was a PX, I used to stop each morning for waffles and syrup on bacon.

Going to Kit again, when she had to be shod, I would have to walk with her from Chalk Hall, down to the blacksmiths, which was by the clerk of the works yard. Either Mr. Pye or young Ernie, his son, used to shoe her. Walking back one day, I had crossed over the Brandon Road, as I was going the back way, and I thought why on earth am I walking when I've got an animal here that I could ride. It was rather silly of me really, I'd particularly been told not to ride Kit because she'd never had anyone on her back, but I clambered on. She'd not got a saddle, all she had was a bridle. We got on to the Old Elden road, and we went up there like a bomb. She was kicking and bucking, all the way, trying to get me off her back and I hung on round her neck, with my arms. I really hung on, she couldn't get me off, I was like a limpet. We got as far as Old Elden Cottages, there were a lot of trees up there so, she bucked into these trees, in and out and in and out, still trying to get me off, and I was still hanging on like grim death. We got on track again, and round the stackyard and to the meadow, where we came to a gate, and I thankfully rolled off. I opened the gate, we walked sedately through, and crossed the meadow, and nobody ever knew about it, until now! But I never, ever attempted it again. I realised what they meant when they said, you are not to ride her. There was something behind that, she had never been ridden before, it was really a foolish thing to do!

Mr. Pye used to do the shoeing, old Mr. Pye, and at 11 o'clock every morning, thinking this was something nobody knew about, he used to run down the back way to the pub, the Six Day Inn it was called then, have a pint, and run back. Now Mr. Dow, a canny Scotsman, knew this, although Mr. Pye didn't realise he did, and Mr. Dow said, "That man will work twice as hard when he gets back, for having had that pint." What a very intelligent man Mr. Dow was, he knew his men pretty well, didn't he?

The Park, once again, with Kit, there were a lot of Americans in the Stables, and one morning a young man came along with a stick with doughnuts on it, he held it up and said ,"A half a dozen doughnuts for a half a pint of milk!" They were not supposed to have the milk because, although it was TB tested it wasn't pasteurised and I'd been forbidden to let them have this milk, so I said I was sorry I couldn't let him have any, one thing it wasn't pasteurised and secondly, it was actually rationed so I couldn't let him have the milk, but I would dearly have loved a doughnut. He said, "No milk, no doughnuts!" (laugh) so I didn't get a doughnut. Of course you know we didn't have doughnuts, all that sort of thing was out during the war, there were no little luxuries, very few sweets, rations were very short. I soon lost the weight I had put on at the beginning of the war, nonetheless for that I think we were on a very healthy diet.

We used to have great fun really, because we had so many socials at the village hall, also we used to put on concerts, and we had a great concert once, just the landgirls. I really remember Irene, we were doing a hula, hula thing, and she'd got a raffia skirt on, first, gradually Irene's skirt came undone, leaving her in a pair of pants, then her bra became undone. Trust Irene, and there was one girl, Nancy, and she was calling out, "Irene, Irene, your bra!" but off it came. The hall was full of Americans and servicemen, as well as people from the village and they let up a roar and they whistled and stamped and cheered, it was quite an evening. We had another landgirl, Sadie, she'd been a confectioner before she came here and she made the most beautiful cake, where she got the icing from I don't know, it was shaped as a land army badge , really beautifully done. That was raffled, and we also made sandwiches, all we could put in was salad stuff. Bert Roper provided all the lettuces, tomatoes and we had beetroot, to put in them ,we also chopped up onion which we put in , and people were just picking out bits of onion and throwing them about, we should have left the onion out really, but everything was a great success. That was the only show we put on, but we did do well with that. There were also a lot of dances at the Oddfellows Hall in Thetford, where we all head great fun, we always used to bike down together. They also had dances at Lynford Hall, where the soldiers were stationed, but they used to bring a truck out for us and I'm afraid that one or two of the girls, had to be carried back on (laugh) at night, but, what did it matter, it was all great fun. One or two of them, in the morning, when they stripped the cows out, had to have the odd dig to wake them up again. Well you still had to start at six o'clock in the morning whether or not you'd been out till one and were feeling definitely under the weather the following day.

Len was demobbed in late 1945 and came back to Elveden, as a carpenter, we lived at 66 Cross Roads, where Mr. and Mrs. Linge had lived. We had a daughter, Bridget, and I have two grandchildren. I keep in touch with many of the landgirls, many of them are scattered all over the place. America, Felixstowe, Southwold, all over and Irene, of course, who lives next door to me. We're the only two left here now. Both of us with a lot of memories. "

Irene WoodSimply click to view spoken memories

Irene Wood > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to returnI was born in Newcastle and went to school, until I was fourteen. I left school and took an apprenticeship in tailoring at the Co-op, in Newcastle. Then War broke out, I was the youngest of a large family, there were eight of us, and gradually, one after the other, we were all called up, I was the last. I had decided to go into the Land Army; I was sent to Rodbaston Agricultural College, Pelaw, to train, and from there I had my posting to the Earl of Iveagh's Estate, in Elveden, Suffolk. When we got here, my friend, Nancy Shaw, who came from North Shields, and I, were met by Mr. Dow, who was the Agent. We hopped into this little 'box' Ford, one of these little black cars. As we came along the A11 we noticed, coming from an area of traffic and houses, that it was all trees. That was our first impression, trees on either side. He pointed out a little group of houses, and when we got to the farm, he said, "Well girls, what do you think of our village?" My friend was so astounded, she said, "What village?" Anyhow, we both settled down, and went to live with Mr. and Mrs. Stannard, in the little hostel. The first night we were invited to Tom Baker, the Head Cowman's house for tea, and to meet one or two of the other girls we were going to work with. He was looking through a photograph album with his wife, all of a sudden I said, "I know that lady!" He was so astonished, it turned out that his wife and this old lady, had lived in the same street and went to the same church as my sister. This lady had been Nanny in The Hall at Icklingham or Eriswell, where Tom's wife had been a maid. We had come all that way and we had something in common. Small world.

We settled down in what we thought was a very strange and lonely place, we didn't meet many of the women of the village, but we knew mostly all the men. Which was natural, they were some right good characters among them. The language, was a bit strange, we had to get used to the Suffolk 'twang' and they had to get used to the North Country, Geordie accent, which was pretty difficult at first, but what we didn't understand in language - sign was enough. Once when working down at Summerpit, I'd only been there about a fortnight, just getting used to the work. We used to sweep the dairy out, and just to the left of the Dairy there was a little field, where there was a pond, I looked towards it and I could see this old man wandering round and looking and touching things. I went in and said to Iris, she was the head girl, over us and I said, "There's a funny old tramp out there, I don't know what he's up to!" So Iris went out to investigate, she came back in all smiles, "Wouldn't mind having that old tramp's bank book!" she said, I said,

"Oh ! Why not!" - it happened to be his Lordship. He was dressed in one of the oldest macs, there were great patches on his gum boots, naturally, you'd think - well - to me a Lord or a Lady were posh and wore fancy clothes, I was astounded! He walked off, hands behind his back, as he always did, and that was that incident.

I can remember when they first started sending the flying bombs over, we could see them sometimes, as we cycled down to work, early in the morning. Going towards the direction of London, we used to often think of what was going to happen. But as far as war was concerned, although we were right in the middle of all the American bases, and with the British Air Force, left, right and centre, it was peaceful here. We rarely heard a siren.

Much later I remember Mr. Lock coming to see us, we were milking on the school field, we had just finished, I was washing up and he came strolling across and we said, "Hello! what have we done?" and he said "Well, girls, it's all over, it's all finished." We looked at him and said "What's finished?" Anyway - peace had been declared and he had come to tell us that the war was over. We packed everything up immediately, and a gang of us went down to Thetford, to celebrate, we had no idea what time we were going to back to milk the cows, but we did, we finally got back. Then it was the case of all of us gradually returning home. Only I had met my husband to be and I was asked to stay on and be dairymaid, which I did, and I worked for a couple or three years after the war. Then we married and settled down and we had our children .

My working day, during the war:- Mr. Stannard would call us up at five o'clock, we'd have a cup of tea and out we'd go off to Summerpit Farm. We'd get the cows into the yards, we'd set up all the milking machines and the dairy. We'd start with the top milkers, those that would give the most milk. This would keep on until about eight o'clock, then you would take the cows out, and put them into another section of the field, then you'd wash down the dairy, all the pipes and everything, then go to Chalkhall and have breakfast. Come back from breakfast, feed the calves, cover all the yards with straw,by that time it was getting on for lunch time, back we'd go for lunch, come down for second half milking, that would take us from about half past one to five o'clock, cleaning up the same as before ready for the next morning. We'd go and have tea, and we'd be told to come out and make new pens ready for the cows, because we had to pen the fields off, ration the cows to the lucerne. We'd finish that and sometimes we had to help the men , if it was harvest -time or something like that. It was double summertime so, we'd work until about ten o'clock. Then go home,have a bath, and if you went out you did, if not you'd lay on your bed and fall asleep immediately. Later I took a turn at delivering milk around the village with the pony and cart.

I can always remember my first date and that was when my friend and I were asked out. For our first job at Summerpit we had to muck out the yards, and of course, we were eager, dug the fork in and 'snap' that was the first thing I did - break a fork! There were two lovely old gentlemen working there, one was Mr. Flack and one was Mr. Layte. They said, "Come on girls we'll show you how it's done!" They started to show us how, they said, "Don't hurry, just take your time, gently slide your fork in, wrap it over, slide your fork, wrap it over, till you got a fork full!" Easy! After we'd finished one said, "Well girls, what are you doing tonight?" We told them, "Nothing much," because we didn't know anybody then. He said "How about if you meet us down the pub, Smoky Joe's?" We said, "We'd love to meet you at Smoky Joe's!" and he said, "And what's your drink?" I'd never drank, never knew what it was, so I came out with the first thing I could think of - "I'll have a shandy!" So he ordered a shandy for me and that was on the counter waiting for me when I finished work - so that was my first date. After that we met many of the farm hands, who were really nice - they often played tricks on us, but we took it in good part, it's sad to think most of them are gone now.

We had a concert party during the war, my God, I shan't forget it! I think everybody knew me after that! All the village had decided to do something to raise money for charity. The Land Army decided to have a dance and during the dance we were going to have a show on the stage. On the show we had one or two soldiers who were down at Summerpit, they came and sang some songs, then it was our turn. Agnes and I, first of all, did an exhibition dance, with borrowed evening gowns and to finish the show we thought we'd do a Hula Hula dance. We made our own skirts with the straw, we had flesh-coloured underwear, I made a bra covered with tissue paper flowers, but I made one fatal mistake, the bra and the skirt I tied on with satin ribbons. We did our Hula Hula dance, in which I had to do a speciality piece, and in the middle of it ,while I was dancing away, not thinking about anything else, everybody else started shouting, Irene, Irene, and I wasn't thinking, but I had lost half me skirt, and it looked as if I hadn't got a stitch on because I was all in flesh-coloured underwear, my brassiere was flung off and I was swinging from side to side, but I finally sat down, like a trooper, gracefully folded my arms and the song and the dance ended. To rapturous applause! We collected the most money anyway that week! The following day I had to go to Thetford, to the garage to have a puncture mended, the young chap there said, I'll do it for nothing if you give me the same show you gave last night! So my fame had spread! Needless to say he didn't get his show!

My husband, before we were married, also worked in the dairy and when he came in, he said to me, laughing, " You'll never guess what happened!" Well, Harold and his dad were both in the Home Guard, and he told me they had been called out the previous evening, as there was an air raid warning, and they had to go on guard. When he got up the following morning his mother said to him, "What are you doing here?" he said, "I've been here all night," she said, "What time did you come in then?" "One o'clock," he said, so she said, "Where's your father?" He said, "I don't know, he should be here," and of course, poor old dad, was as deaf as a doorpost, and where should he be, still down at the bottom gate - guarding. They had to send a special messenger to tell him that the air -raid 'all clear' had sounded and he was off duty. That was funny though, when he got home he was dog tired, poor old man. The funny things that happened in the war were priceless!"

Irene has three children, Janet, David and Elizabeth Ann, six grand-children and 3 great-grand-children.

Irene carried on her stage career in Elveden much later in life and was a leading light in the 'Elveden Players'.

Leslie Ivan TrettSimply click to view spoken memories

Leslie Trett > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to return"My name is Leslie Ivan Trett and I was born 31st July 1930, at 107 Chalk Hall. I spent most of my schooldays at Chalkhall , but in 1941 we moved down to 67 Crossroads. My wife is Babette Mary, and I met her on 26th January, 1948, at Thetford cinema and we've been married forty seven years. We were married in 1952 in Thetford, we have three children and two grandchildren, Joanna, David and Jonathan and granddaughter, Jamie, who's just got her degree and grandson Adam, who goes to County Upper, Bury.

I can remember the war years, round about 1942, when the Salvation Army was in the Nissen hut opposite the Reading Room, it was a canteen, they sold teas and I used to help in there some nights and mainly weekends. (The Salvation Army people used to lodge with my sister Phyllis (Flack) down at Rectory Cottage). Also I used to go with a woman called Mrs. Cissie Turner, who had a mobile canteen , and I used to go with her, on Saturdays and help. Out at Didlington and that area. I was about twelve or thirteen. I used to enjoy that, we used to go out and serve the troops and that on the side of the road or anywhere they happened to be.

Schooldays: Alec Davey was one of my greatest friends, we started on the same day and we finished on the same day, and of course I used to spend a lot of time with my cousin, Tommy, who lived down Brandon Road, we were all great mates, at that time, living down here. I suppose Alec Davey was probably my best mate, at that time. I remember the evacuees, down the Pub Row, and various places. There were a hundred children went to this school when I was there, we even had a schoolmaster, yes, Mr.Brimilow(?), his name was, Mrs. Brearley was one of the teachers and Miss Manning, Miss Mabel Manning, she finished up in the almshouses. Mrs. Broom was one that I remember very well because she used to come to school on a motorcycle, yes, and I did meet her in latter years, when she was really getting old, but her features hadn't altered at all. I enjoyed school very much, yes I did, I really liked school. I left school at fourteen, I started work on 1st September, 1944, and in those days you had to go in the Dairy for six months, it was what Lord Iveagh wished for all boys, and after six months apprenticeship, as such, you followed in your father's footsteps. Which I did. My father being mainly a warrener, as was my brother, but he was a gamekeeper as well. I had my six months apprenticeship in the dairy and then I went and had an apprenticeship with Jim Layte, who was known as Shuddler, and had many funny moments with him , but I'll say no more, and he taught me about rabbit digging, and after the six months...... they were then reclaiming the land at Duke's Ride, which was all open rabbit country. Then they started to fence all the fields in, and kill the rabbits. I always remember Mr. Crosby the man with a hook (he had lost a hand) his job was to look round the wire (for damage and to make sure no rabbits had dug under it) and he was also a mole catcher. He lived up at Sketchfar (Cottages). A little later when the area was all fenced in I was with Edwin Turner and our job was to clear the rabbits, which we tried to do, which was nearly impossible. At the end of the day, we cleared them and they eventually ploughed it up and set nearly all that land up at Duke's Ride with oats, especially on where Johnny Manns clump is, which is a well known area, the name of the oats was 'Golden Rain', I shall never forget it. As the area progressed, they set trees, at the same time, so when the corn was cut, they cut it above the trees, and the trees eventually came through, which are there now. I was then made a part-time gamekeeper at Summerpit Bottom up to Duke's Ride, and in all that area, which I thoroughly enjoyed. We had close contact with the keeper at Stow (North), a smart man but I can't remember his name, the one before Mr. Barfield. Mr. Tom Turner, Elveden Head Gamekeeper, used to make me cycle up there with various little messages, and things like that, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Then the nesting season came on and I just had the one good season there, which was very, very good. They actually shot it the following year, when I was there, and I think they killed nearly two hundred. Tom Turner put his hand in his pocket and he gave me 2.00 which was a hell of a lot of money at that time, so I enjoyed that! Other things that I remember about him, he used to ride about, on his cycle, and every Sunday morning he would end up at 67 for his cup of tea and his cigarette. As life progressed, after I met Babette, and realised that we were serious, and that the money on the game department wasn't that good at that time and as I was used to having to help with the sugar beet hoeing in any case, I decided that I would stop on the farm. I wish I hadn't done, but at the end of the day it didn't do me any harm. Then I became a full time cowman at Chalkhall. Tom Baker was in charge up there when I started, he was a very, very good cowman. There was Iris who was a landgirl, and Pam (Roper), and they were all up there. Pam's still a resident in Elveden now isn't she? They were good days when you look back. We used to put the hay, for the feed, in a heap, get under it and walk with a forkful, looking like a walking haystack and put it into the manger. We had good times in those days, even though on Sundays we never finished until six o'clock at night - we only got a half a day a week off then. I worked in the dairy at Chalkhall, I suppose we were milking about 80 cows but they used to take a long while because you used to milk them with a machine, then you had to strip them out by hand, in the end. The milk went over the cooler and down into the churns.

I still had a bit of a connection with the game department and when I had time off I used to go in the shooting field. I was also on the farm, at times, I used to drive a combine, and the old 'Spitfire', a 30 cwt Morris Commercial lorry. During my time with the cows I also used to go back and help on the game department. At this particular time, during the war, Tom Turner, who was the Head Keeper, and my father, were the only keepers employed. One day, General le May wanted to go pigeon shooting, and Tom Turner had built him a pigeon hide on the Husk, and he asked me if I would go with him. He gave me a few ideas on how to set up decoy pigeons in his garden at the Game Larder; then I had to go out with General le May and set up his decoys. He was a man who wouldn't shoot pigeons if they were sitting on the ground; the General killed sixteen nice pigeons, then he said he'd had enough and went home. That was very nice to go with the General like that and he was a proper gentleman. At one stage General Doolittle came here and he also did some shooting, he wanted to kill a few rabbits, I was a beater that time. One of my funny recollections was this: when we were rabbit shooting at Napthens, the Americans decided to use tracer cartridges to see where they were shooting, of course, they set fire to the heather! Tom Turner stopped them immediately and sent them home and made them change cartridges. That was a great big laugh. I had some very fond memories of the Americans when they were in Elveden of which these are some.

We used to go to the cinema each day, they would have a different film every day, and then they had the big shows that were in the Red Cross hut and they also used to let us go in there.

I was also their mascot but it's something I don't talk about - but I was. I had a full uniform, yeah. I had the hat , I had the whole uniform, they made it within an hour. They had a workshop in one of the flats in the Stables, that was the place where they did all the alterations (tailor's shop). The Stables was used as the Motor Pool wasn't it? (as well as motor and cycle repair shops, workshops etc.) I also had a jeep that I used to look after at that young age. It (wearing the uniform) allowed me to go round with the courier to all the bases, like Thorpe Abbotts, Holme, Framlingham, Diss - all the bases in the area. I used to go for a ride with him and it was amazing really but I was allowed to go anywhere at that particular time. I went with the courier, Jimmy Inglis, he was a young fellow, my mother used to do his washing at that time. Jimmy got permission, and because I'd got the uniform - I could go round which I did. I was very, very lucky really, because I was able to see all the planes that were on the runway. He used to drive underneath the wings, used to frighten the life out of me , but he used to say, "You'll be all right!" The aircraft were all Super Fortresses and Flying Fortresses. The war was still on in Japan at that time wasn't it?

The building which is now the Reading Room was the jail, and that was where all the M.P's were. Another thing I can remember, there was a Harvard? crashed behind the Dell in those high larch trees there, and I was one of the first to go up there with the M.P's, just after it had crashed. I remember that quite well, I remember a Bomber crashing on the golf course (this was actually a Wellington Bomber which crashed in 1941 - see Alex Jones). There was also another one that crashed near Duke's Ride, what we call the Old Cross Grounds. These are some of my recollections of my early times in the war.

Getting back to cows now, Tom Baker was the first head cowman that I worked under, and during the years that I was on the farm Tim Partridge became head cowman, at Chalkhall. After Babette and I got married, we lived at Chalkhall. I was in the dairy there, I used to cart for the cows, I used to feed them for a start. I was part time on the farm, part time cowman, then I became a full time cowman and after a few weeks I became second cowman because a poor feller there, called Charlie Paul, had got a bad leg, and he realised he couldn't do the work, so I took over when I was quite a young person. Charlie was down at Redneck, but he was the bulls' master really, but he'd got these very bad legs. He used to make all the butter and cream for Lord Iveagh, and when , at times, he couldn't do it , I used to make butter. I also did the milk round, which I thoroughly enjoyed, with the pony. They had two ponies, one called Kit and one called Polly, and it was lovely going round with them, on a nice day, there were some lovely people in Elveden at that time, they really were. All (milk jugs ) had to be left at the gate, if they didn't leave them at the gate and I had to walk up, they didn't get so much milk, I always remember that. I used to shout 'milko' as I came round the corner, and all the ladies would come round the gate, if that was nice weather. I used to have a word with them all the way round, it was really, really nice, they were good days. I had a churn with a brass lid, half pint, pint and quart measures, hung down the side. You'd carry the can where you had to and measure the milk into the jugs. After a few years that was all cartons, which we had to fill before we went out in the mornings, two at a time, then put the lids on them. Eventually they graduated to a van, but even when I was a cowman I used to have to do the milk round now and again, for various reasons, but I still enjoyed it. I remember Babette worked at the Hall then, our son Jonathan was born the same day as Lady Louisa. I was at Chalkhall until 1969.

I got a little bit uneasy, and they knew it at the Estate Office because I wanted to progress. I got called up to the Estate Office, Lord Iveagh and Mr. Harrison were there, they said that they understood that I wanted to progress and as there was no likelihood of Tim Partridge giving up yet, they had something in mind and asked me if I would bear with them. Lord Iveagh told me that they were going to build a dairy in the middle of Rake Bottom, up on the hill, and that they would like me to take charge of it, but he said, "I want you to go and discuss this with your wife." I was told I wouldn't have to live there, but continue to live in Elveden. "Would you consider it?" Well I came home and she was over the moon about it, pretty obvious, so I said I would. The cows first came in September 1969, they took them to Roan Hall, Icklingham and mixed them with the Roan Hall herd. We came home from holiday one Saturday and Tim Partridge stood at the gate, he asked me if I would go and start work at Icklingham the next day because my cows had started to calve and they were a bit vicious! So I did. We were down at Roan Hall, from September to November 11th. I remember because it was Armistice Day. They were really bad, vicious, they'd come off the Yorkshire moors, Lord Iveagh even apologised to me about it, they were friesians. I'd been with Guernsey's all the while, see, I found that a little bit different. Rakebottom was almost finished, so we moved in because we were rather overcrowded at Roan Hall. Little Herbert Turner, who used to work on the Estate, he was the lorry driver, came and moved us up. We started work at four, and as we milked them we loaded them into the lorry, and he took them to Rake Bottom. We had about ten people come to help us in the afternoon, but everything went smoothly. We had ten lovely years up there, we really did.

(asked about prize winning cows) Well I did have a lot to do with them, I was very lucky with them, the ones they had at Chalkhall; there was one in particular, called Moss Rose, she won the supreme championship at Olympia in London. Tim Partridge would only allow me to milk her, other than him, nobody else was allowed to touch it. That cow was milked three times a day, and she gave 10 gallons of milk a day. Just from one cow. But she was fed for it and she was supreme champion, one of the first Guernsey's ever to take the supreme championship. I think her photograph was in the Guinness Book of Records. When we got up to Rake Bottom it was more commercial and there was no showing. It was mainly grading up. They gave you ten years to pay off what the place had cost, but we paid it off within five years, through the breeding scheme and grading up. Some cows would give over 10 gallons a day, not every one, a lot gave 6, it mainly depends on how you feed them or their background. What you mean by grading up: your first calf you had from a heifer you'd put a Aberdeen Angus on it so she didn't have any problems calving down. Then probably you'd put a Hereford on next, to see what her milk yield was going to be in the second lactation, then you'd know whether she'd make sufficient milk yield, and then if so you'd put a friesian on to her so you got the back lactation of a friesian. So you used all your best for what we called grading up. If you got an average cow but you didn't want to calve out of her you would either put a Hereford or a Charolais onto her because you got a lot more money for your crossbred animals. Eighty-five percent of it was artificial insemination and nominated bulls. All the dry cows we used to run on the heath where the War Memorial is.

The great highlights of my life, on my days off, I used to go loading, when the Greeks were shooting here, and it was nothing to kill 800 to 1000 pheasants in a day. I always managed to get time off for that - being in charge made it a little bit easier. The people that I loaded for were such as King Constantine, and in those days at Elveden, Tom Blackwell and Lord Blakenham, which were well known names. A funny thing regarding both those persons, I was the last person to load for them , because they both died about two months later. But I also did a bit of loading on Shadwell (Estate) for the Earl of Dalhousie, who I think at that time, owned Brechin Castle, and is a relative to the Queen mother, and I loaded for Lord Montagu there, that's going back a few years, and I also loaded for Hugh van Cutsem, who now owns Hillborough, a very loud, gruff man, a very authoritative type person. But they were some of the highlights of my life.

And then in 1980, 4th December, quarter past two, two gentlemen walked in Rake Bottom Dairy, and said, "This is it!" Every cow had gone by the 4th of December. I milked 128 that morning and there were lorries to take them to the abattoir, it was terribly heart-breaking, more to my wife than to me probably. I got over it better than she did, but it was my life. I'd never, ever put milk down the drain, if there was a strike or anything like that, but this particular time there was no milk lorry driver coming, so what did you do, you put it straight down the drain, which I thought was terrible. They all went to the abattoir in Lincolnshire. That was very heart-breaking. But after that my life really sprang to life, because through my wife again, she saw this advert in the paper for a job in Thetford, as a grounds-person, which I applied for and got within two weeks, and I had sixteen glorious years as groundsman at Rosemary Musker High School. I really made some wonderful friends, we're still in touch and I still go to the school twice a week.

(What organisations have I belonged to in Elveden)? Well I've played football for Elveden, I played cricket for Elveden, played darts for Elveden. We used to play snooker and table tennis, in the village hall - table tennis was one of my top games at that particular time, and I even indulged in a game of bowls, at different times, but that wasn't one of my greater... Oh! And, of course, the highlight must have been the Elveden Players, (laugh from all ) which I was dragged into because I used to do the curtains at one time, but at the end of the day I did end up on the stage. I did thoroughly enjoy it and er.. we had a wonderful producer (big laugh because the producer was interviewer Gill) oh (laugh again) You'll cut that out I know that!! (chuckle) - Shall I stop now?

Irene Gwendoline(Taffy) JohnsonSimply click to view spoken memories

Irene 'Taffy' Johnson > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to returnMost people call me Johnny or Taffy, my father-in-law nick-named me Taffy, I was born in Abertillery, South Wales, I was married to Charles William Richard (Dick) Johnson, we were married on March 8th, 1941.

I first met Dick when I got a job in London, in service, as a Head Housemaid, and he was butler, and ooh, he was a terror! Then the lady of the house, just a lady and her daughter lived there, decided to give up the house, so Dick went as a wine waiter-cum-chauffeur at Grosvenor House, and I got a job in service in Harley Street, for a little while. I went from there to South Kensington. When war broke out Dick was an ambulance driver in the A.R.P. and he said why didn't I go back home to Wales, so I did. He got called up and was stationed at Bridgenorth, just outside Weston-Super-Mare. He could get up to see me in Wales from there, then he was transferred to Scotland, he decided that we'd get married before he moved, and so we did. After a while he said, "Why don't you go and live with my mother at Mayday?" (between Elveden and Brandon), and then when I have leave I can see both of you at the same time. So I did and I've been down in this part of the world ever since. I lived at Mayday for seven years with my mother-in-law. I worked in the MOB stores in Thetford, then I worked for Kier Brothers down at Brandon and Weeting; then I met a fellow I had worked with at the MOB stores who told me there was a job going in Elveden he said, "Why don't you apply for it, you won't have so far to bike!" I got the job, it was with the AMWD (Air Ministry Works Department) then, and I worked there in the little office until the Americans pulled out. I did go to the Thanksgiving Dinner - Capt. Reynolds and Major (Greater?) took me. Then I had to go to Honington, and then to Ingham when all the stuff went from here, so that I could check it, then to Severals House at Newmarket, then back to Honington, until the pub came up in 1948, and we were lucky enough to get it. Dick was up in Scotland still at that time, then he was demobbed and came home. He a got a job lorry driving for a bit, then he got a job at Mildenhall (Airbase) as manager of the PX. I managed the pub on my own, most of the time, but I got a lot of help because everybody there was my friend, they were wonderful to me. Later, when Dick was so ill in Addenbrookes, I used to go every night to see him and Cliff Thirtle used to do the bar and Florrie would help clear up. We were in the pub twenty-five years. Little Herbie Turner, who used to live at Chalkhall used to take me in to visit Dick, and then I moved to The Dell and he and Cliff moved all my things. I was up there a month on my own before Dick came home.

The AMWD office was the little hut in the Park opposite the Game Larder entrance, when I first got the job there, I used to sleep there, there were no toilet facilities for a woman, so I used to have to go to Neville's grandfather's across the road. I always used to call on him and when your grandfather was so very ill, I went over one morning and I asked Anne, his wife, how he was , he heard my voice and he said, "Is that Mrs. Johnson?" So I sat chatting to him for some time. He was a good friend to me.

I used to go to all the do's in Elveden, my dancing partner was Charlie Paul.

Still I've had some very happy days, and I can honestly say, I'd never want to live anywhere else except here and Mayday and everybody has always been my friend. At the beginning of our time in the pub it wasn't very busy, but after people got to know us I made lots and lots of friends. We took over from Joe and Tillie Turner, they went to Mildenhall, they took a pub there. They used to call the pub 'Smoky Joe's. I always remember, the first Sunday, because we didn't open Sundays, old Harry Skipper and Dick took ten hours to whitewash the ceilings. I had wonderful friends, I had wonderful times with Palmer Hanslip, and 'Lijah Collins, and all of them. The name of the pub was the 'Six Day Inn' and after Dick died the piece they put in the magazine said it would always be remembered as the 'Six Day Inn'. We had a domino and darts team, in the dominoes team there was Tom Trayes, 'Whoop' Bowers, Father (Bill) Paul, and sometimes they'd rope me in if one didn't turn up and I used to play darts sometimes.

We only had tiles floors, so we had to wash the floor a couple of times a day. It was a 'pub', we were one of the first to have Guinness. The traveller came round once and asked to go down into the cellar, if that was where the Guinness barrel was, he had to go and check the number. He came up laughing and said, "I've seen everything now!" I said, "What do you mean?" He had seen that we had the barrel standing on planks, to keep it off the floor and with a blanket wrapped round it! I said, "Yes -to keep it warm!" So they put me in a heater after that.

We had a lovely garden up at the Dell but it was hard work, but then once again I was helped, the first time Dick was ill, Cecil Cooper, who lived in the house by the Laundry, used to come up and see us each week, and I was digging in the garden and he said, "What do you think you are doing?" I said, "Digging the garden." and he said "Well I'm a poor mate if I can't help you!" and he came up all that week, every day until he dug that bit for me. I did have some help in the garden from my friends and relatives, later, when it got too much for us, but we did win the competition (Gayest Garden), we had a little cup for that. I used to feed the pheasants. When Dick was able to get about after he came home, Jimmy Pallant gave him a rideway to feed , to give him something to do; sometimes during the shooting season I used to feed them in the morning before I went to the school. I had three tame cock birds and a hen bird.

I used to help Maud Fielder in the kitchen, she was the school cook. Linda (Gant) reminded me the other day that I used to sometimes skip with the children in the playground, I said, "Was I that daft!"

"I had a laugh then!"

I wouldn't want to live anywhere else, and I was so happy when they let me come down here to this little cottage."

Harry SkipperSimply click to view spoken memories

Harry & Isobel Skipper > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to return"My name is Harry Skipper, I was born in Elveden , on December 4th 1925 at 69, Cross Roads.

My father, also Harry, had been in the First World War, and came here in 1922 when they built the Memorial Tower at the church, my grandfather was in charge of it as clerk of the works, and all my uncles worked on it as well. They worked for Cornish and Gaymer, from North Walsham. (a firm of church builders and restorers). My father was a flint layer and my uncles were stone masons, all worked for the same firm. My grandfather worked for them for 50 years. Afterwards dad stayed on, Mr. Dow offered him six months work when they finished the Tower, there was a depression then, of course, the church hadn't got any money and there was little building or renovation work being done... so he had to get a job here. My dad stayed here the rest of his life. He had married my mother Alice Elizabeth in 1916, in Mundesley. They lived in the Cross Roads while they were building the Tower. He was in the army and went right through the first world war, he won the M.M. and was mentioned in dispatches. Whilst in France he ran and won a marathon.

I attended Elveden Village School and left at fourteen. I remember everybody there, I'm afraid they're nearly all dead now those I went to school with, it's a great shame, all the men are gone, there are lots of the girls left. I went to school with Don Cross, Harold Wood, Herbert Turner. I still remember them. The headteacher's name was Miss Drew, then Mrs Brearley came and a few other ones in between. Miss Drew came and saw me after the war. When I left school, in 1939, I started as an apprentice carpenter, I was here two years and then I joined a London firm, who were building the mustard gas factory at Barnham. I had a year with those, as an improver, it was war work. After I finished there I worked in the Park for nearly a year for the Air Ministry which entailed doing repairs and maintenance on the buildings. We used to have to go to Honington, Ingham, Feltwell, Barnham bomb dump, Warren Wood bomb dump and others. Then in February 1944, I was called up in the army.

I was in the Home Guard for three years before that, we had a good time in the Home Guard I enjoyed it. That gave me a good grounding for the army, I'll tell you that. All the old soldiers were in it, my dad, and Mr. Ernie Turner.

Isobel had joined the ATS in 1941, and was a Lance Corporal in the Medical Corps.

I met Isobel in 1947, when she was staying at Evelyn's (Eveyln Cockburn nee Trett who lived at 67 Cross Roads). We met at a dance at the village hall and it was love at first sight. I didn't meet Isobel until the Christmas dance, we got engaged in February, and married of 5th June, so we only knew each other just over five months really, before we got married, and now we've been married fifty-two years. We married at Elveden Church. We have two sons, Michael and John, Michael is a Technical Research Scientist, working for British Sugar in Norwich, and John is a Major in the Army Intelligence Corps. They are both married and have children, Michael is married to Yvonne and they have Victoria and Harry and John has a daughter, Samantha. John's present wife's name is Cicely. Michael lives in Norwich and John lives in Wiltshire.

I've tons of memories of the war, of the air raids, bombing night after night on Lakenheath warren , you know they had a dummy aerodrome there and I've still got one of the incendiary bombs I found, we used to go and find the unexploded ones unscrew the cap off the tail, take the magnesium out and set light to it. (laugh)

I worked for the Americans in the Park, I can remember when they first came, we (the Air Ministry) built all the huts. Then I went in the army, when I came back, I can remember the firm knocking everything down, after the war. When we first got married we lived in the little hut in the Park for one year, where Taffy Johnson had lived; we had a happy time in that hut, a bit basic, but very nice - lovely. Tom Turner used to come and see us regularly, because he was just over the road, at the Headkeeper's Lodge, by the Game Larder, he'd pop in for a chat.

I was trained at Brentford and then I went to Worcester, and after we finished at Worcester, I went straight into active service, we landed on the beaches just to the left of Dunkirk. I spent the winter of '44 in Nijmegen and then, in '45 we advanced over the Maas and we were making our way up to Hilversum when the war finished. It was terrible, a lot of my friends I went out with .. killed, I never saw them again. When the war finished in Germany they flew all the young fellows in the First Division out to Egypt, we were supposed to be on our way to Japan, .. we were going train in Egypt, then they were going to take us on to Japan as an assault force, but the war finished while we were still in Egypt. So I was like Reg Trett, we were both sent to Palestine, Reg was in the camp next to me and I didn't know he was there until I came out of the army. I'll tell you the other chap in the village who was in the same camp as me, just over the wire from me - Dennis Reeder. I didn't know him then you see.

I came out of the army and went to work for Sindall, the builders, for nearly two years, we built the first forty houses in Thetford and then a school canteen, and the school up at Burston, near Diss. When all our contracts finished round here, Sindall wanted me to go to work on Bedford prison but I wouldn't go because we were living in that hut in the Park, I wouldn't leave Isobel on her own, so I got a job on the Estate. That was when I started on the Estate again, in 1949. Michael was born that year. We moved from the little hut to Summerpit, and we lived at Summerpit just over a year, then we moved into this house, number 64 Cross Roads. I was employed on the Estate from then on, the last ten years as foreman.

I belonged to the British Legion, the Bowls Club and I was in the Football Club.

I remember the Pleasure Gardens in the Park well (beautifully laid out gardens near the lily pond, at the back of the Stables and on the South Lawn behind the Hall). I can also remember I used to go out with little Freddy Flack, on the game wagon, when they all had horses and carts. Mr. Paul who lived next door drove the carrier wagon, every Saturday, to Thetford, before the war. He used bring us cockles and mussels and everything from Ellis's the fishmonger, at Thetford. There were lots of people delivering things then, that's all gone now. We had Savage Brothers and Barnett from Thetford, and others. (Groceries, meat, fish, paraffin and milk, which came from the Elveden Dairies, were all delivered to the door).

When I was young, dad and all the village used to take their accumulators (storage batteries for wirelesses) round to the power station at the Stables, to have them recharged. I can remember that because I actually worked about a month in the power station, that was when it was still in working order and running at the beginning of the war. It was where Mrs. Roper lives now, at The Stables. It had two beautiful engines. That was one of the first jobs my father did, when he finished with the church, he built all the foundations for the engines and helped them to put the engines in. Two beautiful gas engines, they were run on coal gas, and Peter Brotherhood, the chap who made them and put them in, lodged with us.

(Harry was asked if he remembered the railway line which had been built to bring the building materials for the Hall from Barnham Station to Elveden).

Yes there had been a line but that had gone.

I can remember being told about a railway line that ran from the Warren Wood brickyard to the Hall and beyond. There were double doors in the oak fencing, where Mr. Ede's house is now,(the last house in Elveden - on the left as you go to Thetford) and a corresponding set of doors on the other side of the A11 (London Road) (both Harry and Nev remember these doors). I was told that the line ran from Warren Wood brickyard, straight across the fields to the back of the clerk of the works yard, then through the double doors in the oak fence, then across the road and through the double doors opposite. (near to where the pumping station is now). Then it used to go straight across the football pitch, there was a little branch and it went up to the Hall. (Transporting the bricks from the brickyard used in building the Hall). Then they told me the line branched left and went down past the front of the Old Rectory, not at the top of the Old Rectory, it kept in the valley, all the way down to Barnham Lodge. (As Harry said, this has not been verified). They had to convey the stone and bricks and everything from Barnham Lodge, to the Hall.

The main cutting saws for the stone and cutting sheds were down at Barnham lodge, if you dig in all those hedges at Barnham Lodge you'll find pieces of stone, we used to go down there to get the stone dust.

I can remember the brickyard (Warren Wood) when that was still in working order, I mean they weren't using it then but that was still in working order, including all the boilers. I helped Brinkley, from Beck Row, take it down. He used to pay me at night after work, to help him. I used to go up on my own and weekends, and cut the trucks up and cut everything up I could, then after we cut that up I went at night helping him cut the gasworks up at the Clerk of the Works yard. I helped to take the rails up at Warren Wood, the few that were left in the brickyard, we took all those up.

[Nev's mum and her brothers, who lived near the Cottage Homes, used to play on the little bogies that ran from the brickyard on a railway that was situated somewhere behind the Cottage Homes. This was when bricks were being conveyed there to build the Homes in about 1912].

Harry - I'll tell you a tale about those little bogies, Gordon Woods and myself, we cut the top off one, and just left the four wheels and the bottom chassis, and we pushed that all the way from the brickyard down to the Brandon Pits, and pushed it down, when there was lots of water down there, and let it go all the way into the water. Two days later, Mr. Dow found out, somebody had informed him that it was in there, and poor old Dad and Gordon Woods and myself, with some more help, had to get it out and pull it up. Dad made Gordan and me push it back all the way up to the brickyard again. (laughs) .

Oh and another thing - you know we've had all this talk about the A11 -when I was about nine, ten or eleven say, I saw the RAC chap Mark (Hayward), and the little girls Woods, killed six foot in front of me. I was horrified, I can remember I ran as soon as this car hit and killed the bloke. I know I ran down here, I think that was Nurse Garnham lived here then and I told her there'd been a bad accident at the Cross Roads, and I ran home frightened out of my life. Oh that was terrible, and then of course another terrible thing at the beginning of the war poor old George Pickett got hit by an armoured car and I think it was your grandfather Alderton, Nev, who was driving the little green lorry then, and he came down with the lorry to pick the body up and he, Dad and I , had the awful job of getting him off the road, into a blanket, because this armoured car knocked him down and then ran over him. That was terrible and he was our neighbour, he lived at No.70, yes he was a bricklayer with dad. In 1941/42, that was very bad. Poor Mr. Cawston too, I was the first one to him. We sat in here, Gordon Woods and his wife were here and we were having a sausage supper. The dog suddenly started going berserk in here, and I ran outside to see what had happened I could hear Mr. Cawston's son shouting on the road and I ran out there and of course there was nothing we could do for him, he was dead, an American hit him, that was after the war. He was then going home from the club, the old club in the nissen hut."


Harry and Isobel have a lovely garden and Harry told us that he had won the Village Produce Association's Gayest Garden Cup seven times, since then he has won the cup for the year 2000, making it his eighth time. Gwendolen, Lady Iveagh, donated the cup, many years ago, to be awarded to the person whose garden had been adjudged to be the 'Gayest' and most well kept in the village.

(A small steam engine (locomotive) pulled the trucks, carrying the marble and stone on the railway which ran from Barnham Station to the cutting shed at Elveden. Many people remember the railway from Barnham Station to Elveden being talked about. Research is being carried out to see if any evidence can be found regarding either of these railways, it is almost certain the branch line from Barnham Station to Elveden existed and was laid expressly for the purpose of bringing the minerals used in the building of the Hall to Elveden, it was removed soon afterwards. The Warren Wood brickworks railway to the Hall probably existed, there is evidence on an Ordnance Survey map of that time that a 'tramway' was in existence and it is shown leading from the brickworks to the edge of the Brandon Road, which could be the beginning of a much longer railway which would continue over the road and follow the path suggested by Harry Skipper, at present this is only conjecture).

It was a great privilege to talk to these senior members of our village, and to hear the poignant, funny and interesting tales they had to tell. It was an enormous pleasure to be invited into their homes and to have such kind hospitality extended to us.

We have already talked to other village inhabitants and have written recordings of their memories. Others have promised to share their memories with us and it is hoped that even more people will come forward with their stories and recollections - so that we can capture, for the generations to come, some of the history and essence of the Elveden we all love so much.

Gillian Turner. 2000.
see also Memories

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