Catherine Greenaway's Memories of Little Wolford
Catherine Bettie Greenway (nee Haine) was born on12th February1920 at Tower Farm, Little Wolford, the first child of four and the eldest of three, of Reginald George Haine and Catherine Nilgiri Haine (nee Campbell). Her siblings, in order of age, were Margaret, Phyllis and Colin.
My grandfather, Robert Haine, was a tenant on the Earl of Camperdown's estate. Lord Camperdown lived at Weston House, He was unmarried and lived with his mother, the Countess. The house was built in a field between Cherington and Long Compton. He could sometimes be seen walking in the grounds.
My grandfather, being a Somerset man originally, used to make Cheddar cheese from the milk of his dairy cattle. The Earl, who was very interested in all that went on on the estate, could sometimes be seen walking around the fields behind Weston House. He had a sharp attachment, like a knife, on the bottom of his walking sticks and as he went through the fields, he would cut out the thistles, counting how many he cut. At the end of the day he could tell you how many he had cut out. At the same time as he was walking around his fields he would be composing his speech for the next time he went to the House of Lords.
His mother, the Countess, took an interest in the village. When she drove through the village in her carriage on a washing day and she saw a nice line of washing hanging out, looking clean and neat, the next week the footman would be sent to the cottage with a parcel of good linen as a present. If the washing on the line wasn't very good looking then the footman would call at that cottage and say that the Countess had said that the housewife should be doing better than that!
The only means of transport in the village at the time was, of course, horses. Just after the First World War, one of the young men in the village who had survived the war and come home, started up a carrier's business. He had a big sort of van and he took parcels and people on market days to Shipston, Stratford and Banbury. The people would sit on broad seats the length of the van, facing each other. That was quite a thing.
The first private car in the village belonged to Mr. Kilbey at Broadmoor Farm. He used to drive from the farm up to the post box by the fountain and shout 'whoa!' very loudly, which was quite amusing.
The fountain was a water supply with good drinking water for the whole village; there was no piped water laid on in the cottages. The supply in the fountain came from a spring in the plough field behind Tower Farm. It was all right until there was a very hot summer and the cows would drink too much, so there would be no water to come to the fountain. Then the men would come in the evenings to the farm and say 'Please can you cover the troughs so the village can get some water?' So they would have to cover the troughs in order that the water from the spring could flow back into the fountain. Quite a few of the cottagers used to come up in the afternoons, wearing lovely long red pinafores, with their buckets to get their water supply for drinking and cooking for the next day. The fountain was built into the wall of the Manor House, which was the biggest house in the village. It had been divided into several cottages. One of these cottages was the village shop. There used to be great excitement at Tower Farm on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, when our grandmother (Granny Campbell) would take us to the shop where we bought white sugar pigs with pink noses and chocolate coins and other thing to hang on our Christmas tree.
Another thing that was always a Christmas Eve special was when the men on Tower Farm had finished work and the milking and would come to the house, where my grandfather and step grandmother were waiting to give them their Christmas Box. This always consisted of the same items; a joint of meat, a packet of tea and a bag of sugar. That was their present every year. My parents continued the tradition when they took over the tenancy from my grandfather and it was only the advent of rationing In World War Two that stopped the tradition.
But to return to the manor and its cottages. When the Earl of Camperdown died he left the estate to Mr. Warriner, who had been his agent. After Mr. Warriner's death Mrs. Warriner took over the running of the estate. Later the manor was sold and the village lost its meeting place. Until then the old banqueting hall at the manor had been the meeting place and was also used for special occasions.
During his lifetime, the Earl got to hear that my grandparents had been holding Sunday services, in the big kitchen at Tower Farm, for the nonconformists in the locality. He then said that they should be allowed to use the banqueting hall (known as the old hall) for their services. After the sale of the manor Mrs. Warriner gave the village a big cowshed and £100. The present village hall was built on that site and has been made very good use of ever since. But, there was a proviso, that when the new village hall was built, the chapel people should be allowed to have a room for Sunday services; this was carried out until there was no one left to hold services there.
The WI in particular made good use of the village hall. One of the highlights of their meeting was in the winter when I went over to the hall to see mother performing and we were about half way down the village when a vixen barked very close to us. I don't know whether you have ever heard a vixen, but it is a terrifying noise, especially for a nine-year old girl. Apparently I clung to my father much to his amusement.
When the manor was sold, it was bought by a private gentleman, who, naturally wanted to have electricity put in. The people installing the electricity asked the farmers who would be prepared to contribute to have electricity brought in (as there was none in the village) and how many points they would be prepared to have to make it worthwhile to bring electricity to the village. My father was counting up how many points he would want in the barns, milking shed and other farm building when a small voice said 'what about the house?' So eventually we got electricity in the house. That would have been just before World War Two in the late 1930's.
All the children in the village went to school in Great Wolford. There were two teachers; Miss Luckins and Miss Bull, known as 'Governess' and 'Teacher'. Woe betides the boy who met either of them out in the village at the weekend and didn't lift his cap and say 'Good morning'. He'd be really told off. But they were very good teachers. Miss Luckins, in particular, used to take the senior boys to an allotment along the Moreton Road in the afternoons and taught them everything to do with gardening. Miss Bull was very good at sewing. Children normally stayed at Great Wolford until the official school leaving age (14 at that time, it was raised to 15 after the Second World War) although one or two would leave at 11 and go to Warwick, Chipping Campden or Stratford. My own two sisters Margaret and Phyllis, went on to a private school in Moreton and my brother Colin went to Stratford Grammar School.
We used to walk to school unless it was a very wet day, when we would be taken to school on the float drawn by Charley the old horse. The village children used to have to walk in all weathers, until the parents started a collection, so many pence a week, until there was enough to pay Sam Hall, who had started a business to take children to school in his car. I'm not sure exactly when that started. The route to school was from Little Wolford down the hill to the farm at the bottom then turn right into what was known as Hempstall's 2 fields which run up from the road and then the one that runs up by Great Wolford church, so instead of going the long way round we had a shortcut. I have no idea how long it used to take us, but we used to skip along and run from one telegraph pole to the next, then walk on to the next pole; walk one, run one.
We had to take our own dinner with us, usually sandwiches with home cooked fat bacon. There was a great big old stove in the school and there was always a big kettle on it. Teacher and Governess always made sure that every child had a hot drink. They always had a supply of Oxo cubes.
We had a good life, everybody pulled together and we were never bored. In our spare time we sewed, we played games and made our own amusements. I remember one night when my mother and grandmother were going to a WI meeting in the village and my father had been left to look after us, he came in with a big bag of horse chestnuts, a lot of string and a thing to bore a hole through the chestnuts. He gave us each some chestnuts and a piece of string and told us to make necklaces for ourselves. In the summer we would play paper chases round the fields. Hide and seek was a great thing round the farm buildings. We always found some sort of amusement. Of course there was no television. My father bought a little wireless set, I can't remember when, and he fiddled with it to get it to work and suddenly my grandmother looked at my mother and said 'It's music! I can hear music!'