Reading the article “Heyford’s Midwife” in Volume 1 of The Story of Heyford, and in particular seeing the photograph of Anne Clarke’s cottage, reminded me of a family story associated with Thomas Clarke, my grandfather, and the cottage.
Sometime in the 1930’s the thatch had become infested with sparrows which were causing problems by burrowing and nesting. My grandfather decided to poison them by laying down food laced with strychnine. This apparently worked because two or three days later there were dozens of dead sparrows lying on the ground under the thatch. Unfortunately there were also two dead cats which had been poisoned by eating the sparrows.
My grandfather was in the Foresters Arms that Sunday lunchtime and heard a neighbour say, “We haven’t seen our old tom cat for two or three days, he’s probably gone off and got lost”. My grandfather guessed the truth and decided to keep quiet until the same neighbour said, “We’ve got sparrow pie for dinner today. We found them round the back of your cottage”. Apparently sparrow pie was quite a treat for poor country folk in the days of The Depression.
My grandfather was forced to blurt out the whole story and they rushed round the neighbours house just in time to stop the pie being dished up for Sunday lunch!
The Clarke’s house in Church Street
Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s
Volume 3 of 4 | Chapter 2 of 17 | Page 3