The Story of Heyford: Heyford’s Midwife V1C1

Anne ClarkeMrs Anne Clarke was a midwife in Heyford for forty years. Born around 1846, Miss Bateman as she then was took a nurses training course at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. She was sent to Heyford to recover from housemaid’s knee, where she met and married Thomas Clarke. He was a village man who worked at the old brickyard in Furnace Lane. They bought a little thatched cottage that used to stand on the corner of Church Street, opposite the little village green, and had nine children. Mrs Clarke later took an interest in midwifery and became the village midwife for forty years, and it is said that she was reluctant to give up even then.

Outside her house Mrs Clarke kept a long pole which was used to tap her bedroom window should she be needed in the night. She attended all confinements on her own and visited her patients daily for two weeks. One story suggests that she had two confinements at the same time, one at Upper Heyford and one at Upper Stowe, and a pony and trap had to rush her from one home to the other. She made one delivery on a boat on the canal. The next morning the boat had gone. She had to give evidence in court as the baby had not been registered. They later traced the family up north.

Mrs Clarke is remembered as always wearing a hat and shawl, carrying a black bag and a supply of candles and sheets, as some families lacked these necessities. She could be seen every day at noon with her little white jug fetching her half pint of stout (at a cost of 2d) from the pub ‘to keep her going’. Her charge for a confinement was 7/6d which could be paid in instalments of 9d at a time. As families were larger and closer then, it is possible that these instalments were a regular allowance in the family budget for a while.

She had a brother in America who regularly sent her a dollar note which was a great deal of money in those days. On her old age pension of 10/-she managed to fatten up a pig for the winter, pay 1/- for a bag of coal, and still manage her half pint a day!

Anne Clarke was a widow for a number of years and died during the 1939-45 war at the age of 95. Several of her descendants still live in Heyford and no doubt have heard many a tale of their grandmother or great-grandmother.

Shirley Collins

House

AnneClarke_Family.jpg

Photos lent by: Mick Lilley

Extract from The Story of Heyford – Volume 1 of 4 – Pages 2 & 3

The Story of Heyford: Book series – How the books were created (Afterword)

‘The Story of Heyford’ was a series of 4 books published by the Nether Heyford village community as a result of the research work completed during 1996-1997

The Heyford Local History Group

These booklets were born out of a small group of local people meeting together with the aim of recording Heyford’s past. The group became known as the `Heyford Local History Group.’

The first meeting was held at the house of Eiluned Morgan in Church Street in the Spring of 1996. During a series of informal meetings we discussed how we could collect information, photographs and stories, how we could involve other people, and in what form the information could be recorded.

The people involved in these early meetings were Eiluned Morgan, Ken Garrett, Shirley Collins, John Smith, Pam Clements, Stephen Ferneyhough and Steve Young.

Our original aim was to publish a paperback style book with photographs, probably by the end of 1998. We held two open meetings in the school hall, one in October 1996 and one in February 1997. At these meetings we had various information and photographs on display.  At the second meeting Barry Highfield gave a short talk about Mrs Court’s shop and we showed a video of old Heyford photographs. About forty people came to each of these meetings. We served tea and coffee, we made new contacts, we collected more stories, and both occasions were good social events.

By this time however it had become clear that the funds necessary and the time commitment needed to publish a full scale book were beyond our means. All of us in the group were working full time and had various other commitments. So the idea of a series of smaller scale booklets came about and what you see here is the result. There will be several booklets in the series, but with no formal structure. We have worked on the principle that it is better to write down the information as we find it, publish it and then move our efforts on to the next subject. We can always add to it in a later issue as more information becomes available.

By the people, of the people and for the people

Many local villagers have contributed to these booklets by giving information, lending photographs, offering documents, telling stories and exchanging memories. Their names will appear with particular stories as you read through them. It is truly a history prepared by, written about, and published for the people of Heyford.

However we would like to make several particular acknowledgements in relation to the preparation and publishing of these booklets. All the people mentioned below live in the village. Use of school facilities for our open meetings: Alan Watson, headmaster;  Scanning and preparation of photographs: Tim Beard of Manor Park; Typesetting and origination: Bill Nial and Key Composition; Printing:  David Farmer and Heyford Press;  Financial support: The Prattler

Accuracy

Whilst every effort has been made to report these stories accurately, please understand that much of the information has come from memory, recollection and hand-written notes. These booklets have been written to capture the ‘spirit’ of the village rather than to catalogue a series of facts, flames, names and dates. We do hope that you enjoy reading them.

Stephen Ferneyhough, Editor