Letters: Dee Hillyard

Sadly, our Mum Dee passed away in Northampton General Hospital on 19th February aged 88 years. She had been admitted to hospital following a routine Doctors appointment at Bugbrooke Surgery. Mum was well known in Heyford as she spent 22 years as a school dinner lady at Bliss from the early 70’s to 1997. As a family we still have the newspaper article from the Chronicle & Echo with a lovely photo of Mum with some of the children. The article said she hung up her apron the day before her 65th birthday!

The Prattler also featured a full-page piece written by then teacher Jill Langrish about Mum and all that she experienced at school. (Reproduced below). The lovely comments we have received from past pupils has been really comforting. Especially those messages about wobbly teeth, grazed knees, ‘seconds’ at lunchtime and lots of reassuring hand holding.

Mum was born one of nine, in Kislingbury, and leaves behind her older sister Daph (Faulkner) who still lives in Church Street. When she married Dad (Alan) in 1959 they started married life in Heyford and never left. They lived first at the B&B in Church Street and then in Church Lane where they had Sheena and Mark before moving to Furnace Lane where both Paul and Sara were born. This was the family home, at number 72, until Mum & Dad downsized in 2008 to their lovely bungalow at 5 The Pound. They used to say that they had the best view in the village, out across The Green.

We have lovely memories of Mum and Dad going off to play bingo at the village hall when we were young. Mum also enjoyed a game of cards and kept this tradition going on Christmas Day until a few years ago. It was something she took seriously!

She will be truly missed and we are sure many people have many memories of Mum as she used to walk up and down Furnace Lane, with her shopping, and would stop to chat on the way.

Sheena, Mark, Paul & Sara.

From Spam Fritters to Hula Hoops

Twenty-two years ago on 20 October 1975 a new dinner lady joined the lunchtime staff of Bliss Charity School, a staff that included Mrs Clarke, Mrs Faulkner and Mrs Nial. The new dinner lady was Mrs Dee Hillyard and she was appointed to a temporary post with one month’s probation.

Her duties were to work in the kitchen preparing the food and then serve it to the children. At that time the teachers supervised the children in the school hall but in time, this became the responsibility of the dinner ladies together with clearing away plates and cutlery, wiping tables and sweeping the floor. Then it was out to the playground, in winter to button up coats and help fingers into gloves, and in summer to shelter from the sun and allow trips to the drinking fountain. The playground crazes of Hopscotch, Skipping, Tig, Tazos, Football Stickers and Marbles have all been part of Mrs Dee Hillyard’s “lunchtime diet” over the years.

As the years passed so another area of the hall was developing, that of the packed lunch group. Now the dinner ladies had to open Thomas the Tank Engine lunch boxes, peel back yoghurt tops and pour drinks from flasks. These ‘picnickers’ became more numerous and in March 1992 the school kitchen finally closed, the
kitchen staff departed and lunchtime supervision was left to the three dinner ladies.

But whilst the weather outside remained as unpredictable as ever, the children, like their choices of food changed term by term, year by year. With hundreds of children, Dee Hillyard has watched their games, enjoyed their secrets, marvelled at their appetites and perhaps been surprised by their table manners!

Mrs Dee Hillyard has lived in Nether Heyford for over 30 years and is a mother of four children, Sheena, Mark, Paul and Sarah. When these children grew up she acquitted a new set of children to enjoy – her grandchildren Kelly, Ben and Louise. Several years ago Dee’s husband Alan was very seriously injured in a road traffic accident. It was a difficult time for her and her family but time, patience and care resulted in a full recovery for Alan Hillyard. Although Dee had a few days absences from school at the time of the accident she was soon back at work. We all admired her strength and fortitude at such an emotional time.

So, sadly on 20 June we will be saying goodbye to Dee as she retires on her 65th birthday. We are Bliss School, staff, parents, governors and above all the children, who will miss her very much. We would like to say “Thank You” for the past 22 years. We hope you have a very happy birthday and an even happier retirement. You certainly deserve it, especially the lunchtimes.

Jill Langrish

Article from The Prattler – 1997

The Royal British Legion Nether Heyford Women’s Section

As stated in the previous Prattler, here is an update on the Poppy Appeal Fundraising over the last couple of months.

Firstly, my thanks to everyone who has been involved in the fundraising and to all the donors who are listed below. If I have missed anyone, please accept my apologies and thanks on behalf of The Royal British Legion. The support given to such a worthy cause is much appreciated.

I have collected the monies given and have paid these into our Bank. The total collected is £622.37.

Jez Wilson published the names earlier, but I would like to thank those that donated who include:

Gary Richmond, Aly & Rich, Joan & Alex, Trev Clarkey, Marie Hanlon, Sarah Hawkins, Birkett family, Jadine, Simon & Debbie, Heyford Athletic FC, Brian and Maxine Edgington, Stu and Emma, Sue & Tony Boutle, Jez Wilson, Gary McMahon, Lesley Faulkner, Jill Garratt, The Gilkes Family, The Wray’s, Lynn Adey, Mark, Sally and Emily Stroman, Ms Patricia Wakeman, Lisa King & many more donors who chose to remain anonymous.

I would also like to thank Claire Green, one of our members, for the donation of £127.30 being the proceeds from the sale of masks and various other items. These were made by the Adult Education Unit which Claire works for. Our heartfelt thanks to these special people who have made a difference.

Our small Branch is always looking for new members so, ladies, if you would like to join and come to our meetings, you would be most welcome. We fund raise and have a meeting on the first Thursday of the month and have some interesting speakers. If you feel that this would interest you, come and join us. Please contact Kath Pancoust, our Branch Secretary, for further details on 01327 340034 or email/message The Prattler and they can connect you with one of the British Legion members so you can find out more about membership.


Kind regards

Caroline Elliott – Treasurer – February 2020

-~-

The Royal British Legion

The Royal British Legion, is a British charity providing financial, social and emotional support to members and veterans of the British Armed Forces, their families and dependants.

There are approximately 2,500 Royal British Legion branches across the UK and overseas. They are focal points for social activity, Remembrance and support the Armed Forces community in all kinds of ways.In local communities they play a vital role in helping hard-to-reach individuals and tackling problems like loneliness and isolation.

https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/

Fundraising page (now closed): https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/netherheyfordbritishlegion

Nether Heyford British Legion – Poppy Appeal 2020 – Update

On behalf of the Royal British Legion, Nether Heyford Women’s Section, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks for the generous donations given through the Justgiving site set up by Jez Wilson to help with the Poppy Appeal.

Thank you Jez for your participation in setting this up and for your earlier note in The Prattler.

Thank you to all for the generous donations given, through the site and through donations given personally to members of the RBL. Your donations have exceeded the expectation of the original £80 to purchase the wreaths. I can confirm that I have paid the sum for the wreaths and once all monies are collected, I will let The Prattler know and put the totals in the next edition.

Once again, thank you all. This means so much to keep the RBL helping our veterans.

Kind regards

Caroline Elliott – Treasurer – December 2020

The Royal British Legion

The Royal British Legion, is a British charity providing financial, social and emotional support to members and veterans of the British Armed Forces, their families and dependants.

Poppy Appeal 2020 – with amazing speed and generosity £310 was quickly raised – combining that with some cash and cheque donations sent through the post, a grand total of £425 was raised for the local village British Legion branch helping towards remembrance day 2020 and beyond.

Many thanks for all those that donated which included :

Gary Richmond | Aly & Rich | Joan & Alex | Trev Clarkey | Marie Hanlon | Sarah Hawkins | Birkett family | Jadine | Simon & Debbie | Heyford Athletic FC | Brian and Maxine Edgington | Stu and Emma | Sue Boutle | Jez Wilson | Gary McMahon | Lesely Faulkner | Jill Garratt | The Gilkes Family | The Wray’s | Lynn Adey | Mark, Sally and Emily Stroman

& many more donors who chose to remain anonymous

Jez Wilson – November 2020

The Story of Heyford (Extra): Pensioners Club – Christmas 1989

NetherHeyfordPensionersClub1989

“My nan Florrie Coles would have been 111 today. This is the Nether Heyford pensioners club in 1989. She came to live with us in 1985 from London and was welcomed into the village by all these lovely people. She is 7th from the left front row, in black. Anyone recognise their relatives ?”

Photograph published on the Facebook group Nether Heyford Past “Thanks for the Memories”

By Jeanette Bradstreet Letts (with Ray Bradstreet & Stephen Bradstreet)

3rd April 2018

Back Row (Left to Right):

  1. Mr Weaver
  2. Mr Denny
  3. Mrs Hardwick (?)
  4. Mrs Smith
  5. Mrs Wallis
  6. Mr Tandy 
  7. Mr Jones
  8. Mrs Osborne
  9. Mr Humphrey
  10. Mr Perkin
  11. Mrs Hale
  12. Mrs Peggy Redley
  13. Mr Randall
  14. Mrs Marjorie Hamborg
  15. Mrs June Masters
  16. Mrs Weaver
  17. Mrs Shelia Masters
  18. Mr George Masters

Middle Row (Left to Right):

  1. Mrs Dunkley
  2. Mrs Gowan
  3. Mrs Butt
  4. Miss Reeve
  5. Mrs Lyons
  6. Mrs Wilkes
  7. Mrs Randall

Front Row (Left to Right):

  1. Mrs Kingston / Mary Butcher (?) 
  2. Mrs Jones
  3. Mr Fred Browning
  4. Mrs Phyllis Matthews
  5. Mrs Joan Clarke
  6. Mrs King
  7. Mrs Florrie Coles
  8. Miss Weaver
  9. Mrs Cornelius
  10. Mrs Wright
  11. Mrs MeDade (?)

For any corrections/additions to the names please contact Jez Wilson at The Prattler

13/10/2020

Nether Heyford British Legion – Poppy Appeal 2020

The Royal British Legion

The Royal British Legion, is a British charity providing financial, social and emotional support to members and veterans of the British Armed Forces, their families and dependants.

Nether Heyford British Legion

The Nether Heyford British Legion are not able to order poppies this year from the British Legion (individual branches cannot order them this year). Poppies are normally sold door to door throughout the village and in the village pubs and shops to raise funds for the Nether Heyford branch of The British Legion.

A coffee morning is also usually held to raise funds but is not possible this year either.

The funds raised in the village go directly to the local village branch and helps to pay for the wreaths that are laid on the war memorial on Remembrance Day in November.

Upon hearing about this situation in early September, a crowdfunding page was set up on the JustGiving website:

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/netherheyfordbritishlegion

to simply raise £80 to order some wreaths for November.

With amazing speed and generosity £310 was quickly raised – combining that with some cash and cheque donations sent through the post, a grand total of £425 was raised for the local village British Legion branch helping towards remembrance day 2020 and beyond.

Many thanks for all those that donated which included :

Gary Richmond | Aly & Rich | Joan & Alex | Trev Clarkey | Marie Hanlon | Sarah Hawkins | Birkett family | Jadine | Simon & Debbie | Heyford Athletic FC | Brian and Maxine Edgington | Stu and Emma | Sue Boutle | Jez Wilson | Gary McMahon | Lesely Faulkner | Jill Garratt | The Gilkes Family | The Wray’s | Lynn Adey | Mark, Sally and Emily Stroman

& many more donors who chose to remain anonymous

Jez Wilson – September 2020

The Story of Heyford: Sparrow Pie V3C2

Sparrow Pie

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

TheStoryOfHeyfordV3C2-ClarkesCottage-SparrowPie

Dick Clarke

~~

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

TheStoryOfHeyford_NetherHeyford_Footer

Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

 

The Story of Heyford (Extra): Dear Diary – May 1953

May 1953

Dear Diary,

What an exciting year this promises to be. Two weddings and a Coronation and they will all be different.

The first wedding is to be this month when Keith Clarke marries Brenda at the Methodist Chapel in Church Street. They are to have a reception at the Foresters Arms, and a neighbour is making them a wedding cake. I expect they will live in Hillside Road when Brenda’s parents move out.

The second wedding is my auntie Beryl who is to marry Jack Gibbins in Heyford church in June. This is special to me because I am to be a bridesmaid. Three of us are having long dresses in lemon with purple bows around the bottom and bonnets to match. Mum is putting ringlets in my hair which probably means sleeping with rags in. They are to live with Jack’s mother in Furnace Lane until a Council house becomes available for them.

We have posies to carry and I am to hold my auntie’s bouquet while she says “I do”. This means I can’t hold the hymn book, so we are all gathered around Nan’s piano while mum plays and we learn the hymns by heart. All her family play an instrument.

She wanted me to have piano lessons but I refused to practice so she said she wouldn’t be wasting money on me learning and dad said I was to stop being an awkward young lady. “What else will you do on a Saturday evening when you’re older?” Maybe I’ll regret not learning, who knows.

Last but not least, our lovely Queen Elizabeth is to be crowned in June in London and it is to be shown on the television. We don’t have one so I have been asked to go to a neighbour’s house to watch it. The Queen’s mother will be there but her grandmother died in March so she’ll miss it and I bet she would have loved to see another Coronation. The school children from Bliss school are to plant Acacia and May trees along what is now to be called Coronation Row, the little road opposite the school which splits up the village green. Dad got us some flags to pin up above our front door, and everybody seems to have something to hang up on the big day.

More good news. At last they have taken the railings down from around the war memorial on the little green and it is to be the end of sweet rationing. Bring on the lolly pops.

Until all this happens I think I’ll get my head in a book and read another Famous Five story. Shall I chose “Go Off in a Caravan”, “Go To Kirren Island” or, as normal, “Get Into Trouble”, all exciting stories with my favourite characters. I might look at my School Friend comic as well. Mum says I should keep my comics “in case we run out of toilet paper”, I mean, can you imagine?

Polly

Letter published in The Prattler – May 2020

 

The Story of Heyford: Heyford at the Turn of the Century V4C3

The Census return of 1891

The details from Census Returns are not made available to the public until they are one hundred years old so the one most recently available to us is that of 1891. An analysis of this gives us a pretty good idea of what life in the village was like at the turn of the century.

The houses and people

The details below tell us about the number of houses, people and canal boats.

Lower Heyford

  • 164 houses inhabited, 28 uninhabited
  • 750 people, 365 males and 385 females
  • 7 canal boats with 23 people on board

Upper Heyford

  • 22 houses inhabited, 7 uninhabited
  • 96 people, 41 males and 55 females

The houses listed as uninhabited were either vacant because the occupants were away on the night of the census, or more likely because they were uninhabitable.

A number of the families listed in the 1891 Census have continued to live in the area throughout the century: Names such as Adams, Charville, Clarke, Collins, Denny, Eales, Faulkner, Foster, Furniss, Garrett, Kingston, and Masters are still well known in the village today.

In those days street names were generally not used and there were certainly no house numbers. However several specific buildings are mentioned in the census.

NetherHeyfordTurnofCentury_StoryofHeyford1 copy

Working life

The occupations listed in the census also give some insight into working life in the village. Here is a breakdown into the main types of occupation.

Farming. The census lists 2 farmers, 2 flour millers, 1 milkman, 3 shepherds, 1 tractor engine driver and 26 agricultural labourers.

Building. 1 builder, 1 plasterer, 1 stonemason, 3 bricklayers and 7 carpenters.

Boot and shoe making. 5 shoemakers, 2 shoe rivetters, 1 boot and shoe finisher.

Other trades. 1 tailor, 2 lacemakers, 11 dressmakers, 2 blacksmiths, 1 harness maker, 1 wheelwright, 1 gunmaker, 3 boatbuilders, 1 organ builder.

Dealers. 1 butcher, 2 bakers, 3 coal merchants, 1 timber merchant, 1 corn merchant, 1 draper, 2 carriers, and 5 publicans, beer sellers and innkeepers.

Blast furnaces. These were the biggest single employers in the village with 1 blast furnace foreman, 2 blast furnace engine drivers, 2 stationary drivers, 1 engine fitter, 2 ironstone labourers, 1 weighboy, and 28 labourers.

Brickworks. 16 brickyard labourers.

Railway. 1 railway engine driver, 1 goods shed labourer, 1 engine fitter, 1 telegraph clerk, 3 signalmen and 4 platelayers.

Domestic and educational. 1 schoolmaster, 2 school mistresses, 1 clerk, 1 governess, 14 housemaids and domestic servants, 2 grooms, 1 nurse girl, 3 laundresses, 1 midwife.

Other. 28 general labourers.

The village as it appeared in 1900NetherHeyfordTurnofCentury_StoryofHeyford2

The memories of Bob Browning (1892-1997)

Many of the details in the remainder of this chapter came from information given by Bob Browning to Stephen Ferneyhough on Tuesday 9th April 1996. Bob Browning was born in August 1892 and died in March 1997, aged 104. He was one of two brothers and four sisters all born in Nether Heyford. The story of this family appeared in Volume 2 of this series of booklets. All lived well into their nineties (94, 96, 98, 99, 101, 104) and Bob was the last and oldest surviving member of the family.

I visited him in his room at Bethany Homestead in Northampton. He was smartly dressed in a suit and tie. He greeted me with a handshake and made me feel very welcome by telling the nurse that I was a very good friend of his. He was very lively, interested in anything historical and was very glad to pass on anything he could for the interest of future generations. He lived in the village until he moved to Northampton in 1922, and most of the memories below are from that period.

Everyday life in Heyford

Life for most people was a matter of survival and self-sufficiency. The days were long, money was scarce and life was simple. Most families had an allotment and grew most of their own vegetable needs. After work in the light evenings, this was one of the main activities.

Most families kept hens. At harvest time the children went ‘gleaning’, that is picking up any remaining ears of corn to feed to the chickens. If a hen went broody, you’d put a dozen eggs under her in the spring time and so continue the supply of chickens and eggs.

Most people also kept a pig, usually in the backyard but sometimes on the allotment. The straw from the pigsty Was tipped onto the allotment, and the vegetable waste from the kitchen was fed to the pig. The boys went collecting acorns for the pigs in the autumn which they could sell for a tanner a bagful. The pigs were killed and butchered in the autumn to give a winter supply of meat. This was usually done by the butcher Ted Capel, and later by his son jack. The butcher went to the home or allotment to kill the pig. The meat was salted, and then laid in trays or hung in nets in the living room or hallway.

There were several farmers in the village producing milk. They delivered the milk, which was unpasteurised, each day in large cans. They had pint and half-pint measures which they filled and tipped into the jugs of the housewives who bought it. During the war there were shortages of anything that they couldn’t grow themselves. Sugar was rationed to half a pound a week. Butter was scarce and margarine became more common. However, they made a kind of butter by leaving the milk to stand overnight so that the cream came to the surface. By scooping it off and shaking it up they were able to make a sort of butter to use as a treat at the weekend.

There were two orchards in the village. john Barker had the one owned by the school behind Church Street. There was also Ben’s Orchard in Middle Street. This had a wall all around it, but it didn’t keep the boys out. They went scrumping for apples and pears in the autumn and stored them under the eaves the hayricks which were thatched for protection against the rain. They would always know the right time to retrieve them before the farmer came to dismantle the ricks. Nowadays there are no orchards, but the boys go garden hopping instead… presumably to get the same sense of excitement.

Lack of services

There was no sanitation, just an outside toilet. Some of these still exist in village as tool sheds or stores. but most have gone. The toilet would be emptied around once a week, usually onto the allotment. Sometime before the first world war the cart started coming. Two men employed by the council brought a two-wheeled cart pulled by horse to collect the toilet contents. It was then taken away for disposal. It had only two wheels to allow it to tip for emptying.

There was no gas or electricity. Gas came to the village just before the first world war via the Bugbrooke gasworks. Electricity didn’t come until after the second war. For light there were candles and oil lamps. For cooking there was a range with an open fire. On one side was a boiler for heating water and on the other side a small oven for baking cakes. You could divert the flames and heat to one or the other. On Sundays the wife would cook the vegetables, but the joint and yorkshire puddings were usually taken to one of the bakers for cooking while the family was at church or chapel. The main bakery for this was the one in Furnace Lane run by Wesley Faulkner. Most people had a bath once a week, often on Friday. Each house had a tin bath. The water for the bath was heated in the copper in the kitchen over an open fire. The fires were fuelled mostly by coal. There was a ready supply of coal to the village which came by canal. The Eales family who ran the post office kept a coal yard. Tom Dunkley at the Bricklayers Arms beside the canal also had a coalyard. He made deliveries by cart from which people would buy; enough to last the week.

The water supply consisted of four taps and many wells. There were four public taps in the village. One outside the jubilee Hall, one opposite the school outside Dennys house, one on the wall in Church Lane, and one near the Church rooms. A lot of the houses had wells, all supplied by the many springs in the area. The wells were dug two or three feet wide, five or six feet deep, and brick lined. The water was obtained by means of a bucket and rope. Later after the first war it became common to fit a handpump to the well.

The top of Church Street in 1913NetherHeyfordTurnofCentury_StoryofHeyford3This photograph, lent by Bob Smith, was taken in 1913 and shows a view from the top of Church Street. In the distance can be seen a small group of cottages, since demolished.

The homes

Most of the houses were of stone (either limestone or sandstone) with thatched roofs and stone slabs for flooring. Some of the older ones like the tinsmith forge opposite the war memorial had mud walls. But many of the newer houses built late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were of brick and slate with red quarry floor tiles. There was a brickworks in Furnace Lane where Wickes now is, but again the canal brought a ready supply of both brick and slate into the village. The owners of Flore Lane Wharf were dealers in brick and slate.

Inside the homes, most walls were plastered. This was made with a mixture of sand and lime. There were two good sandpits in Furnace Lane and there were a number of lime kilns along the canal which supplied slaked lime.

Church Street – the working heart of the village 

In those days there were no street names or numbers. It was just ‘Barkers yard’ or ‘Tandy’s place’. Everybody knew who everybody was and where they lived.

The stone and thatch house behind the war memorial known as ‘the Springs’ was a laundry owned by a family called Smith. Sometime before the first world war the laundry was closed and the house was taken over by the Ward family.

In front of ‘the Springs’ was the Jubilee Hall. An article on this appeared in volume one of this series of booklets.

On the site of the jitty opposite the war memorial was a tinsmith forge. The path of the jitty then ran further to the left and came out beside the house known as ‘the Springs’. The forge was made of mud walls but became derelict and was demolished in 1920 when the New School house was built.

The small building to the right of the jitty which housed ‘Tops the Hairdressers’, and more recently ‘Heyford Antiques’ was built by William Browning, (Bob’s father) as a haberdashery and material business. Bob grandparents, Mr and Mrs Alfred Marsh (maternal side) lived next door.

To the right of this is a small three bedroomed cottage where the six Browning children were born and grew up. Behind these buildings was a saw pit and builders yard.

Next door is the house known as Tandy’s place. There used to be a right of way here through the yard to the jitty. Before Tandy was there it was occupied by a man named Gammage who ran a boot and shoe business. He married into the Faulkner family but later moved his business into Northampton. After he left it was taken over by Mr Tandy who made only heels and soles. He bought scraps from the leather factories and cut them up with special knives, building them up in layers to make heels and soles which were then sold on to shoe factories. After Mr Tandy left, it was occupied by a man named Williams who kept three or four cows and supplied milk to the village.

Further down Church Street, where the road turns sharply to the left, the red brick building on the inside of that corner was a bakehouse. It was owned by Thomas Faulkner who also ran the Methodist chapel for around 50 years until his death in 1940. He lived opposite in the stone and thatch building known as Ash Tree Cottage.

To the right of Ash Tree Cottage are some black doors. Here there used to be a blacksmith. The building belonged to the Faulkner family but the forge was used only once a week by Mr Green who came over from Flore. Later on it was Edward Wright who came (Bob Browning’s father in law). It was closed sometime before the second world war.

To the left of Ash Tree Cottage is Capel Cottage. so called because it was where a butchers business was run by the Capel family for three generations. Firstly by Ted before the first world war, then later by his son Jack. Most of the pigs in the village were slaughtered by the Capels.

Just around the corner was a small wheelwright shop run by Mr Foster. He learned his trade as an apprentice sponsored by the Arnold charity. The main local wheelwright was in Flore.

Further down Church Street, round the corner, almost opposite the Church is a stone, brick and thatch house that was a shop selling sweets, general groceries and beer. It was run by Mrs Oliver. Her husband worked on the roads (building and repairing).

Two views of Church Street

NetherHeyfordTurnofCentury_StoryofHeyford4This view of Church Street at the corner of Manor Walk shows Manor Cottage and Capell Cottage. The lady in the picture is Mrs David Browning.

NetherHeyfordTurnofCentury_StoryofHeyford5This picture above shows the row of cottages between the two bends in Church Street. The ones at the far end have since been demolished. 

Stephen Ferneyhough

~~

Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 4 of 4 | Chapter 3 of 8 | Pages 12 to 17

TheStoryOfHeyford_NetherHeyford_Footer

Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

The Story of Heyford: The Browning Family V2C11

The Brownings are a notorious Heyford family — notorious, that is, for their longevity! The last generation of Brownings to bear the family name in the village all died in their late nineties and early one-hundreds. The very last, Bob Browning, died aged 104 in 1997.

The Browning story begins in Maxey, near Peterborough with David Browning, a labourer, who was  born some time in the late 1790s. He married a woman called Maria and it may have been she who provided the longevity gene. Maria was born in 1798 and died in 1881, in Daventry, at the age of 83 – only a year before her own son and daughter-in-law.

Police inspector

Maria’s son, also called David was born in 1832 in Maxey and he brought the Browning family to Northamptonshire. He married Susan Price, the daughter of a butcher in 1861 and a year later went into the police force. He became the Police Inspector at Daventry and lived at the County Police Station there. The couple had nine children over thirteen years – the last three were all born within a year of the previous birth. While this is an eye—watering thought, of course it was not unusual to have so many children so close together. More remarkable, perhaps, was that seven children survived into adulthood.

Their parents, David and Susan, were not so lucky with their own life expectancy. Both died in 1882; David aged 50 and his wife, only 41. It appears that an unfortunate incident affected David’s police career and ultimately his life.

Hilda Collins, David Browning’s great grand-daughter, said that when the police inspector turned out gypsies at Dodford village as part of his duty he was attacked and, as the family recalled, “was never the same since.” He did not work again and was retired early from the force.

In the October Court Session of 1878 it is recorded: “That Inspector David Browning  be superannuated for 12 months, he has been in the force since 1862 and reported by two Medical Gentlemen as unfit to perform further duty. And it is further ordered as the Chief Constable recommends Inspector Browning for a pension that he do receive for the next 12 months an allowance after the rate of £48 per annum, the allowance to be paid quarterly; at the expiration of the 12 months Inspector Browning be then incapable of performing duty the Court will have to consider the continuation of the Allowance as a yearly Pension.”

One year later the October Session recorded that Inspector David Browning was “incapable of further duty” and was permanently retired. The pension would have been helpful but the family needed to find another income. The Brownings moved to Sheaf Street in Daventry and Susan Browning became a grocer. The census of 1881 shows Susan Browning to be the head of the family, (although David was still alive at the time) with five of her children at home. The elderly Maria Browning, Susan’s mother-in-law – who had been living with the family for at least ten years – had died just before the census was taken.

William Price Browning

Susan and David died shortly after the census, in 1882, and it was left to William Price Browning, as the eldest son, to take care of his younger brothers and sisters. He was 18 and was a commercial traveller and later, a rate collector in Nether Heyford. There must have been some financial difficulty in keeping the family together because Leonard Browning, the youngest child, was sent to Wolverhampton Orphanage at the age of six. Hilda Collins has a Bible inscribed by the orphanage and presented to Leonard. She is not sure why Wolverhampton was chosen but thinks that it might have been a connection with the police force.

Several of the Browning siblings moved to Heyford with William Price Browning (“W.P.”) including one of his younger brothers, David. He was the second son to be called David, the first having died in infancy. David Browning married into the Eales family, who ran the post office, and he kept the shop and post office from 1930 to 1955.

William Price Browning in 1923

NetherHeyford_BrowningFamily1

Photo lent by Hilda Collins (nee Smith)

The Hardly Annuals

W.P. Browning married Violet, a teacher. They lived in a small cottage near the top of Church Street and had six children within seven years! For this reason, their father referred to them as ‘hardy annuals’ little realising how hardy they would actually be. Violet – without the Browning streak of endurance – died aged 49, but all six children lived on into their late nineties or one—hundreds.

Gwendoline, the eldest child, was born in Nether Heyford in 1891 and followed her mother into the teaching profession, becoming a pupil teacher at Weedon School. In an interview for The Prattler in 1977, 86 year old Gwen remembered how “I did some self—tuition by taking a correspondence course and then later on cycled to teachers’ classes in Daventry.”

She recalled that as a child, “We’d go up to the canal at Heyford Bridge and then all the boys would change one side and the girls the other. Then we’d have a swim or watch the boats, all drawn by horses of course, being pulled up the canal.”

As a young woman, Gwen had an illegitimate daughter, Dorothy. She then married Mr Fred George and had two sons, although the eldest Philip died at 13. She could remember the village midwife, Anne Clarke: “It was quite an occasion when she brought her thousandth baby into the world.”

Like many in the Browning family, Gwen was a Baptist and actively involved in chapel life. She later claimed that her secret to a long life was “to never think about age. Forget how old you are, go wherever you’re asked and never turn down invitations.”

The eldest son, Robert (Bob) was born in 1892 and died in 1997 aged 104. He was the oldest surviving sibling. Like the other Browning children, he attended Bliss Charity School under the headmaster, Mr Cook who he remembered as a stern man. One of his earliest memories was in 1900 when a policeman from Bugbrooke cycled to Heyford to post up the call notices for the Boer War.

In 1905 at the age of 13 he left school and went to work for W H Smith in Weedon, delivering newspapers to the surrounding villages. He would walk with the post to places as far as Grimscote. Later, he joined a boot making factory in Northampton to which he cycled each day. He could always recall the terrible stench of the tanneries as he approached the outskirts of the town.

On the outbreak of World War One, Bob Browning was declared unfit to fight but contributed to the war effort by working a modern boot making machine. He married a woman called Mabel and in 1922 he moved into Northampton. However he retained an active interest in his home village and contributed occasional articles to The Prattler.

May Browning, born 1893 married Harold Smith whose family lived by the canal, beside the Bricklayers Arms before it closed. Harold’s father, Charles, was a railway signalman at Heyford South and the signal box was located on the Litchborough Road near Bugbrooke until the early 1930s.

Hilda Collins remembers how her mother, May, took the post up to Upper Heyford. A family there had a piano and May asked for no charge for her errand but just the opportunity to play it.

Winifred Browning, born 1895, married a Trinidadian, Mr Punch, which was probably considered unusual in 1920s rural England. They had two children but marriage did not survive and at the end of the 1930s, Win Punch earned her income running the fish and chip shop in the barn near The Olde Sun, taking it over from George Oliver.

Nell Browning was born in 1896 and married George Bennett with whom she had a son, Bill. The youngest sibling, Fred, was born in 1898 and lived to be 98. He was an active member of the village community and involved in the parish church — particularly bell ringing. He married a woman called Gladys and lived in Furnace Lane.

Despite the size and longevity of the family, the Browning name did not survive this generation. Of nine children born to the siblings, eight were born to the sisters under their married names and the other was a girl who also married. However, the Browning stock continues in the village through the Collins family, with its most recent name change, by marriage, to Willgress.

The six Browning children as they appeared around 1906

NetherHeyford_BrowningFamily2

Left to right: May, Fred, Robert, Gwen, Nell, and Win

The family on the occasion of Bob’s 90th Birthday celebration

NetherHeyford_BrowningFamily3

Left to right: Mrs Winifred Punch (87), Mrs Gwendoline George (91), Bob Browning (90),
Fred Browning (84), Mrs May Smith (88), and Mrs Nell Bennett (86)

Photos from an article in the Chronicle and Echo August 1982

W.P Browning’s family on the occasion of his daughter’s wedding in 1921

NetherHeyford_BrowningFamily4

Top: George Bennett, Bill Bennett, Nell Bennett (nee Browning), Gladys Browning, Fred Browning, Friend, Friend, Mabel Browning, Friend, Friend, Fred George, Friend, Friend, Bob Browning

Middle: Win Punch (nee Browning), Odette Punch, Charles Smith, Harriet Smith, Harold Smith (bridegroom), May Smith (bride), Violet Browning, W.P. Browning, Gwen George (nee Browning), Philip Browning

Bottom: Dorothy Browning, Ellen ‘Nen’ Browning

Photo lent by Hilda Collins (nee Smith)

‘Progress’ by Bob Browning (1892-1997)

These days it seems there’s such a fuss about which foods are good for us.
What’s worse, I notice with dismay, the list grows longer every day!
They’re all the things that I miss most: Yorkshire puddings, Sunday roast,
Mash and bangers, eggs and ham, warm scones and strawberry jam,
Toast with butter, thickly spread, beef dripping on fresh-baked bread
Cheese and chicken are suspect too. I really don’t know what to do!’
Obediently when I was small, what Mother served, I ate all,
It seems to me now I am old, I still must do what I am told.
I’m over four score years and ten, and won’t see ninety—five again.
Since everything I ate was wrong, I marvel that I lived so long!

The words of Bob Browning whilst in Bethany Homestead where he spent his later years.

The Post Office

Other Brownings contributed to life in Nether Heyford. As mentioned, David Browning, brother to W.P., married into the village’s post office family. His wife, Annie, Was a member of the Eales family who had run the business since 1877.

John Eales was the village’s first postmaster and ran the post office and shop for 30 years before handing it on to his daughter Amy. She took over in 1907, When the shop and houses on the site were auctioned at The Old Sun Inn and bought by Amy Eales for £320.

David and Annie Browning then took over in 1930 during which time the thatched premises was pulled down and replaced by the present corner—shop building, They had a daughter, Ellen (‘Nen’) who was born in Manor Cottage, Church Street in 1907. Nen taught in the village school before succeeding the shop and post office from her father in 1955.

David Browning outside the post office in the 1950s.

NetherHeyford_BrowningFamily5

Photo lent by Judy Armitage

Nen Blaney 

Nen ran the business until 1968 When, on the death of her husband, Major W. Blaney, Nen sold the shop to a Mr and Mrs Eales (apparently no relation) and opened the newsagent and post office next door. She continued working until 1986 — retiring gracefully at the age of 80!

Nen Blaney had many memories of Heyford. Her uncle, Mr J. Earl, ran a carrier’s cart to Northampton on Wednesdays and Saturdays. She recalled that “the first bus we had in the village was a coal cart that  travelled once a day and was run by a Mr Harold Botterill from Bugbrooke. On Saturdays it was a bit different because they put a shed thing (a wooden structure) on top as a cover.”

Mrs Blaney outside her post office

NetherHeyford_BrowningFamily6

Photo lent by Judy Armitage

She also remembered a postman named Albert Bates Who used to cycle in from Weedon with the post, hand over Nether Heyford’s share and then cycle on to Bugbrooke. Nen Blaney’s own working day was long; starting at 5am and often finishing around midnight. Despite this demanding schedule, Nen Blaney was chairwoman of the British Legion Women’s Section for over 20 years.

She was proud to be invited to the Queen’s Birthday Party at Buckingham Palace in 1971 in celebration of the Legion’s 50th anniversary. Major Blaney chaired the British Legion’s Northamptonshire Branch and served Nether Heyford on the Daventry Rural District Council, of which he became chairman. Family of Nen Blaney still live in the village today.

Sarah Croutear

~~

Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 2 of 4 | Chapter 11 of 11 | Pages 26 to 32

TheStoryOfHeyford_NetherHeyford_Footer

Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers