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Hilary Anderson (1939 -)

Hilary Anderson was born in 1939 in Gillingham, Kent and moved to Freckenham on her marriage in 1966. Both she and her husband were teachers, taking up new posts as science master at Linton and teacher of infants at Freckenham school.

'We bought our house from Mr. & Mrs. Rumbelow who moved into the bungalow next door to us. Mr. Rumbelow kept the garage and ran the taxi, and he would only take you if he felt like it and never at night! The villagers were pretty isolated unless they had a car, which few of them did. I took over Mrs. Rumbelow's job at the school, as she was retiring. Before we married Terry used to come up quite a bit doing up the house, and he'd call in the Golden Boar. It was different then, really old fashioned; it had a tap room and you just banged on the wall if you wanted service. The village was very quiet, very calm. Not a pretty village, no thatched cottages, but people coming through said what a nice village it was - and it still is. 

The people were very friendly to us when we arrived, very kind. They didn't invite us into their homes but they would always give you help if you needed it. The only one who did was Mrs. Hood, who worked at the school, and she used to invite me into tea when Terry went away on courses. She introduced me to the W.I. which was held in the Village Hall here. It was very well attended then with the Red Lodge people coming down by mini-bus; later attendances dropped in the village and we had to go to Red Lodge. Terry started up a youth club and they made canoes and went camping in Santon Downham; that was very well attended, too. The Shop was a very good meeting place; the Chalmers had built it up nicely. At the front was the grocery and post office and they'd opened up the back room where they had cottons and wool and that sort of thing. The next owners gradually wound down the post office, then the shop and now it's gone completely.

I worked at the village school for one year and one term. I left at Christmas 1967 to have my first child. The school closed down about two years later. There were about 60 or 70 children there and three teachers. I took the infants class, from five until they were seven. The next class was for the seven to nines and the last class was for the nine to elevens. The original schoolroom was a long room which could be partitioned off to make two rooms, one part was used as the hall and the other half was the middle classroom. Next to that was another room which was my classroom and then there was a prefabricated building in the playground, which was the Head Teacher's room. We had boilers in the classroom for heating and outside toilets, not flush ones. They would come and clean them out once a week, if they remembered! School lunches were served in the village Hall, they weren't cooked on the premises but came from one of the schools in Mildenhall.

I think the heart went out of the village when the school closed, community spirit declined because it had drawn people together, but gradually it's come back and it's a good community now. After 25 years I do feel part of the village, I feel accepted as a villager, I suppose because for some of the younger ones I am part of their history. I certainly wouldn't ever want to leave the village.

Extract of Interview by Sandie Geddes 1991.

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