The Story of Heyford: Four Hundred Years of Bell Ringing V2C3

Bell—ringing in the parish church of St Peter and St Paul goes back at least four centuries. The two oldest bells are dated 1601 and one of these is inscribed ‘Thomas Morgan gave me to the church frank and free.’  Judge Morgan lived in the Manor House at this time. Both bells were cast by a founder called Watts and one is the heaviest bell in the belfry. It is the tenor, weighing over seven hundred-weight: that’s over 784 lbs. or 356 kilos. Another bell was added in 1638, cast by Watts II, and a fourth in 1704 cast by H. Penn. With these four bells it was possible to ring a maximum of 24 changes or sequences (English Change Ringing is based on mathematical sequences rather than musical composition). This was how it remained for 250 years.

Originally there was an external door in the tower where the bell-ringers could gain access. In 1855 there was extensive restoration work in the church which included opening up the tower inside, moving the organ and sealing off the outside door. The heavy wooden door which was removed became the one now hanging as the front entrance to the Old Sun pub. This would be appropriate as the vestry meetings used to adjourn to the Old Sun. Of course, it is still the tradition today for the bell-ringers to finish off every Friday-night ringing practice with a drink in the local – even if, for some reason, ringing hasn’t actually taken place!

During the 1930s the ringers included Mont Smith (John Smith’s grandfather), Fred Browning, Charlie Foster, Bernard Kingston, Harry Eales and Dick Capell. At this time, ringing only usually took place on holy days such as Christmas or Easter; for church services, the bells were just tolled. During the Second World War, bell—ringing generally was banned and only to be used as an alarm for the community. However by 1943 the threat of invasion was considered over and the ban lifted.

A new era and two new bells

This spelled a new era for the Nether Heyford bells. Fred Browning, as the tower captain, recruited and trained a new generation of ringers, including Ted Garrett and Hilda Collins who are still ringing today. Fred also developed handbell ringing at Christmas time. This new enthusiasm was further encouraged by the addition of two new bells after the Reverend Isham Longden, rector from 1897 to 1942, left £100 in his will for a new bell. Even in the 1940s, this provided only a quarter of the amount needed to cast and hang the bells, so an active fund—raising campaign started in the village.

Coffee mornings, whist drives and sales helped to raise £400 and on 21st September 1946, two treble bells were dedicated in church. They were made in London by Gillett and Johnson and hung on a metal frame above the others who were still on a timber frame.

One was called the Victory Bell and there is a list from 1943 of villagers who donated funds towards it. The list includes the rector “Mr” (sic) Mortimer, Harry Allen the verger, Jack Capell the butcher, William Wakefield Whitton, the Kingston family, the Brownings, the Collins’s and the carpenters shop. Most contributed £1, some as much as £5 and some gave ‘two ‘n’ six.’ Now with six bells, the number of possible changes increased dramatically from 24 to 720.

Repairs

In 1979, the four older bells on their wooden frame needed to be rehung and refitted. They had been taken down before but this was the first time in nearly 400 years that they had left the village. They were taken to Taylors of Loughborough and their transport was provided by Jeremy Rice. An eight mile sponsored walk from the church to Flore and Stowe was organised to help raise funds.

Lowering the bells

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The Tenor bell of 1601 bearing the Morgan family crest

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Removing the bells to Loughborough in 1979

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Left to right: Wilf Denny, Bill Collins, Malcolm Chown

Photos lent by Hilda Collins

In 1995, a quarter peal was rung to commemorate the 50th anniversary of VE day. This consisted of 1260 rings non stop and lasted for about an hour. In 1996, the church celebrated the half-century of the treble bells with the Heyford Morris Men, handbell ringers, a lone piper, John Anderson, and a special commemorative service.

Sarah Crontear with thanks to Hilda Collins and Ted Garrett

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NetherHeyfordChurchBellsFredBrowning

Article Published in The Prattler – February 1989 – Fred Browning

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

Volume 2 of 4 | Chapter 3 of 11 | Pages 6 & 7

TheStoryOfHeyford_NetherHeyford_Footer

Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

The Story of Heyford: The Humphrey family and ladder making V1C8

Laddermaking did run(g) in the family! The Bugbrooke firm of J Ward and Son were undertakers and ladder makers and three generations of Humphreys worked there. Ernest Humphrey, Ron and Arthur’s father, was born in Bugbrooke and worked at Ward’s with his wife’s father. Ernest became a journeyman carpenter and for a while went to work in Loughborough with Moss Builders who built the Narborough mental hospital. He remained at the hospital where he was responsible for building maintenance and helped the patients in the workshops there. He married Alice who had been a children’s nurse in Northampton and they started their family, but he became unwell and had to leave his job as a result. The asylum, as it was then known, continued to pay him a small pension until his death in 1936.

How the business began 
The family came back to live in Northamptonshire, only this time in Nether Heyford. Ernest returned to Ward’s. His eldest son Ron went to work there in 1920 when he left school at the age of thirteen, and perhaps it was their experience of working together that encouraged his father to start his own business in Nether Heyford. The asylum pension allowed him to buy the first lot of poles used in the business. Steve Ward, their previous employer was not very happy about this and threatened ‘to smash them’. He even took out a summons against them for not working out their notice, but it didn’t come to anything and in time relations once again became amicable.

At that time the family lived in the cottage on the south side of the Green, no 17, where Mrs Pearson now lives and near to the old folks bungalows. They used the house and garden to make ladders. The garden was turned into a work yard for boring holes in the poles which formed the ladder sides, and for assembling the ladders. The room which is now the living room but at that time was a wash house, was used to make the ladder rungs. The chips left over from making the ladder rungs provided a useful supply of fire lighting material and were sold to local people for sixpence a sack. The ladder sides were planed in a barn behind the Baptist Chapel Rooms, now gone, and at that time owned by Mr J.O.Adams. This space was also used for finishing the ladders off: painting, etc.

Their first venture into business was not a financial success. They were offered a big order from a firm out of the area, which they duly completed. Somewhat strangely they had been asked to deliver the ladders to Travis and Arnold in St James, Northampton from where the ladders would be collected. Having no transport, Mr Humphrey, Ron, Arthur and daughter May had to push the ladders into Northampton on a cart. They were delighted to have made a good sale and looked forward to settlement of the account as money was tied up in timber stock. This was not to be. The firm went bankrupt and not a penny was received.

The move to Church Street
Younger brother Arthur joined the business in July 1923 when he left school. Money was tight and it took time for the business to establish itself in the harsh economic climate of the years after the First World War, but in time it grew sufficiently for Mr Humphrey to buy a property in Church Street where there would be much more space for the family business and home.

The property in Church Street comprised a group of farm buildings complete with an orchard, still there, and a stream with watercress growing in it. The farm was bought on 8th August from Mrs Lookes, an elderly lady who lived in St Matthews Parade in Northampton. There were a number of sitting tenants who, one imagines, were rather disconcerted at the prospect of having to find somewhere else to live. There was Mrs Dunkley who moved to another cottage in 1928, the Collins family who moved to the farm beside the canal bridge in Furnace Lane, the Barnes, the Clarke family and Mr H Gilke.

When Mr Collins was served notice to quit it seems that he didn’t take it lying down and Mr Humphreys noted in his records that he ‘used abusive language to me’. It was not until 1929 that the Humphreys finally moved in.

In the meantime there were rents to be collected and taxes to be paid and it is evident that Mr Humphrey was concerned that the rents were not really sufficient to pay his overheads. It seems that in 1929 ‘the property only brings in yearly £51-12s-6d’.

The large stone farmhouse was in a sorry state and barely habitable. There were also two Victorian cottages on the right hand side of the drive into the farmyard. It was decided to live ii the old farmhouse and to renovate one of the cottages. Eventually the family moved into the cottage, although by that time May was already living at Moulton. When Ron married he moved into the cottage next door where he spent the rest of his life. When Arthur married he moved into a house in Church Street and then to a house on The Green where he still lives.

Ron, Sheila and Arthur in the 1930s

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Photo lent by the Humphrey family

On the farm there was plenty of space to erect two good workshops fitted up with gas lamps. One of the Workshops (where Ladder Cottage now stands) was assembled from an ex-army sectional building. It had a beautiful wooden lining and good windows, and was large enough to take the assembly of a sixty rung ladder. When the business was closed the building was dismantled and sold to a scout group east of Northampton. The other workshop, still standing, was lined with First World War munitions boxes and the pillars for the building were built by Mr Denny.

The  ladders were made by hand until 1946 when a universal machine was bought from Birmingham. This was purchased with the proceeds of selling the family’s dairy cows and Arthur attributes the success of the company to the fact that from that early date they made a point of investing in new machinery. Other machines came from Fells of Windermere, a firm which is still in business. These machines made the work much easier and enabled production to be increased.

The Humphrey’s first and last lorry

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Photo lent by the Humphrey family

The ladders were made from two very different timbers. The sides were made from ‘poles’ imported from Norway and were of Christiana pine and spruce. A special trip would be made to Great Yarmouth or Hull to inspect them. They were then brought by train to Weedon from where they had to be delivered to the workshops, sometimes by the local carrier, Tarrys. Timber was also bought from the London timber docks, south of the River Thames at Surrey Docks. The poles were brought in ‘green’ and were seasoned on the farm. Oak was used for the ladder rungs, and for this it was necessary to go to Leicester where they could be relied upon to supply good quality timber. They must have liked the Humphreys ladders because they would buy their ladders to sell on. Mabbutts of Brixworth supplied first class oak which was knot free. Oak was also bought from Badby and from between Everdon and Stowe. When the oak became scarce and too expensive and the Humphreys had bought the last oak from Earl Spencer’s estate, they turned to ash of which supplies were plentiful. During the war all timber was rationed and it was necessary to have a licence to buy the poles from local merchants.

Many different types of ladder
Over the many years different kinds of ladders were made. They were of different lengths and were measured by the number of rungs they had. A thirty rung ladder was twenty-two feet long. When a pole was split to make the sides of the ladder it produced a round side and a flat side. Builders liked to have the round edge on the outside. perhaps to make it easier on the hands when climbing up it. Others such as farmers and thatchers wanted the round side to the centre, perhaps so that it would not hurt their knees if they leant against the ladder, but also because the thatchers would use the outside face of the ladder as a straight edge to help them lay the thatch.

Thatching hay ricks using Humphreys ladders

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Photo lent by John Smith

There were extension ladders too. The longest was a triple extension ladder of ninety-three rungs for a hotel in Bournemouth. There were also window cleaners ladders and decorators ladders. Some of the ladders were painted, others simply stained. Load ladders were made of willow and were used by farmers when loading the hay wagons. The willow for these was cut from along the Nene Valley and they were not straight. In fact they were deliberately irregular so that if they were knocked over when the hay wagon was loaded they would fall to the ground and rock but not break. Load ladders were also used for thatching hay ricks or ‘thaking’ as it was called locally. The ricks were thatched to keep the hay dry over winter.

In 1930 a forty-five rung ladder for the Northampton Electric Light & Power Co. cost £5-6s-8d. This company were for some years the Humphreys’ best customer with an insatiable need for ladders, and in that same year bought at least fifty of various different lengths. Electricity was still relatively new and presumably the company were busy putting up poles to serve the new customers. I wonder how many of the poles which still exist in Hey-ford were put up using a Humphrey ladder.

Nearly all the customers were local at the beginning but over time it became necessary to look to a wider market and it was then that the ladders began to be exhibited at the annual agricultural shows. Each summer the Humphreys triangular ladder display was loaded up on to the lorry and taken to such shows as the Royal Show at Stoneleigh, and the East of England Show at Peterborough. In time Humphreys ladders were delivered within a seventy-five mile radius which included Worcester and Coventry. But it was the local firm Travis and Arnold which became their best customer.

The Humphreys did not only make ladders. A 1930 order came from ].Y.Castell of Gold Street in Northampton for four milking stools at 4/ – each (less 10% discount), and in the same year a ‘navvy’ barrow was made for W.G.Denny of Nether Heyford for 35/-. They also did repairs such as fixing a gate for the Parish Council, sharpening saws or repairing the handle of a billhook or mallet for Mr J.O.Adams. There seems to have been a delay in settling this bill which eventually involved the exchange of 1.5 cwt of potatoes.

In time a number of local ‘youths’ came to work in the ladder workshops including Bill Kingston, Cliff Gilkes and Ted and Maurice Sargent.

Other family activities
While the men of the family were busy making an selling ladders the women were also active. May Humphrey, the second child, was the post mistress at Moulton for many years before coming back to Nether Heyford to work in Mrs Blaney’s post office. May and Sheila, the youngest daughter, lived in the family home with their mother. For a while they moved into Northampton where it was easier to look after Alice but she died shortly afterwards in 1974.

Arthur and his sister Sheila were well loved members of the Bugbrooke Choir. May was known for her Albert the Lion monologue of which Stanley Holloway also gave a good rendition, and with a bit of encouragement May can be persuaded to do it even today ! The family were stalwart supporters of the Baptist Chapel, May having been Church Secretary and Shelia playing the organ for many years.

Arthur was also a keen gardener and for sixty years gardened the allotment next to the Church Street jitty. This once was a fine garden with flowers and vegetables and the food grown was enjoyed by the whole family.

In order to help with the family finances Ernest had started a milking herd of about nine cows. They had names like Buttercup and Daisy and would respond to their names when called. On Ernest’s death Arthur took over responsibility for the cows which most days would be driven up to fields on Weedon Road. To the dismay of Alice and Arthur, Sheila’s pet lamb, Betty, did not like to be left behind and used to try to go out with them, walking beneath one the cows where it was hard to detect her. There were also hens and many fruit trees. Because of these farming activities Arthur was exempted from the war and the Humphreys continued to deliver milk to local people throughout the war years. When they sold their herd Sheila continued to deliver John Smith’s milk for a while before getting a ‘proper job’.

During the war many people were expected to accommodate evacuees and the Humphreys were no exception. Mrs Humphrey was asked to accommodate a Mrs Buck and her children, and she did what she could to make the old cottage next to the farmhouse habitable, although by now it was in a very sorry state. Mrs Buck’s husband would come up from London at the weekends and in time he got an allotment. He knew nothing about growing vegetables but learned quickly, and to the amazement of the other men in the village was soon producing some of the best. One of the Buck boys was so impressed with Nether Heyford that at the end of the war he decided to stay and in time moved to a house in Furnace Lane. His son Jeff still lives in the village. I always thought he had streak of the Londoner in him. Now I know why !

The later years
The Introduction of baling machines meant that hay as no long loaded onto the wagons and the demand for farming ladders dropped almost overnight. Arthur can remember the first baler in the village at what is now New Creation Farm. The demand for wooden ladders continued to decline after the war. New, lighter metal ladders began to appear. The lack of demand, together with the lack of younger members of the family wanting to go into the business led them finally to close in May 1975. Ron was then 68 and read to retire. He died in 1994. Brother Arthur took retirement and with his wife Nora gave much of their time to the Hospital Guild in Northampton. Nora sadly died but Arthur Humphrey can still be seen walking round the village and gardening in spite of his very bent back, probably brought on by the heavy work of lifting wooden ladders.

Mr Ernest Humphrey and Kit the cow in the orchard in the early 1930s

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Photo lent by the Humphrey family

In 1985 a house was built on the site of the assembly shop and Sheila and her husband Albert Beharrell moved into it. It is aptly named ‘Ladder Cottage’. The old farmhouse has now been largely demolished, although part of it has been incorporated into house built in 1995 by John Connolly for Albert’s daughter and her family. May still lives in the house that the family renovated for themselves ,and Ron’s daughter Jean lives in her old family home next door to May.

Eiluned Morgan (1996)

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

Volume 1 of 4 | Chapter 8 of 13 | Pages 16 to 21

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Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

The Story of Heyford: The Jubilee Hall V1C7

The Jubilee Hall used to stand just behind the memorial green, on the opposite side of the road to where the Butchers and Patisserie are today. It was a stone barn with a thatched roof and was used as a meeting place for clubs and events much as the village hall is used today .

It was an ancient building, possibly built in the late 1600’s at the same time as ‘The Springs’, the thatched stone house which still stands today just behind the site of the Jubilee Hall. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the house and barn were occupied by a family called Smith who ran a laundry there. Bob Browning who was born in 1892 recalled the laundry but we don’t know for sure whether it was run from the house or the barn.

The name Jubilee Hall is believed to have originated from Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, probably her Diamond Jubilee of 1897. It may be that this was when the barn began to be used as a meeting place rather than as a laundry.

In 1914 the house and barn which had been owned by the Church were bought by the Ward family  The Jubilee Hall continued to be used as a meeting place until around the time of the second world war, and we have several local memories of it from the 1920’s and 1930’s.

The Jubilee Hall

JubileeHall_NetherHeyford_1920

Photo lent by Janet Randall

This photograph, lent by Janet Randall, was taken in 1920. n the far right is the old Post Office. To the left of this can be seen the scaffolding from the building of the New School House. In the centre of the picture is the thatched house known as ‘The Springs’, and in front of this is the war memorial.  Note the size of the oak tree beside it. The building on the left is the Jubilee Hall.

Memories of the Jubilee Hall
In March 1981 there was an article published in the Prattler, written by Marjorie Hamborg, based on information from Mr and Mrs Amos Lee, which gives a good insight into its use. This article is reprinted here in italics but we have also added some additional information based on the recollections of a number of other local people.

From The Prattler March 1981
“Our readers may have noticed that to the left of the thatched cottage facing the Memorial Green there is an old wall built of Northamptonshire stone. As this is now being reshaped to camouflage the building of a garage, I thought it would be of interest to know a bit about the history of this part of Heyford. So I visited my friends Mr and Mrs Amos Lee in Furnace Lane as they can give us new villagers some of the history of the Jubilee Hall that used to stand on this site.

At one time this was the only place where the young folk could gather, and here they came to play darts, skittles, rings, bagatelle, and a bit of boxing.”

It was also used for private parties. Dorothy Kingston had her Wedding reception there and Tommy Rolfe of the Foresters supplied them with a ham for £1.

The Pussyfoot Club
“The hall was mainly used by the men of the village, was teetotal, and was given the name ‘Pussyfoot Club’. The ladies of the village were invited when a dance was held there. Mrs Dorothy Kingston remembers them well, the fiddle being played by Lily Porch and Bern Kingston, and the piano by Lily’s sister Phillis. I also understand that Mrs Cameron from the school also used to take part. There was a small stove around which wet clothes could be dried in bad weather.”

Bob Browning who was born in 1892 recalled that ‘it was open six evenings a week between 6 pm and 10 pm. You could buy drinks there and play skittles. Sometimes there was also boxing, done in those days with bare fists.’

Bill Nickolls also remembers the Pussyfoot Club. The youngsters came from 5 pm to 8 pm. They paid a halfpenny per night to play darts, billiards, skittles and cards. Later the older ones came. They took it in turns to run the bar. Bill remembers on one occasion how somebody put a firework in the keyhole. The door jammed and they had to escape through the toilet window by climbing on the bucket.

Bill Kingston remembers the dances on Saturday nights. His father Bernard, and Lily Porch (later Mrs Green) played the violin. They danced waltzes, the military two-step and the lancers (a formation dance).

“However partly due to agitation by mothers whose sons became too fond of the card games carried on there, and partly to difficulty of getting committee members to organise events, the hall fell into disuse.”

The Laundry
“Before Mr and Mrs Ward came to live in the cottage Mrs Lee’s stepmother had a laundry there and Mrs Ada Smith can remember as a child seeing Mr Lee trundling his basket of clean laundry up Furnace Lane.”.

Cobblers Shop
Another person remembered with the Jubilee Hall during the 1930’s was Sid Eales. There was a small wooden hut next to the Jubilee Hall in which he ran a cobblers shop. He had been injured during the first world war and walked with a limp. He not only mended shoes, but would also take bets on your behalf if you wanted him to.

Fire wood and the black market
Jack Haddon had a timber yard a little way up Weedon Road Where the Randalls now live.

“Mr Lee tells me that during the second world war years the hall was used for chopping firewood and he remembers what a grand employer Jack Haddon was, working alongside Mr Lee, Mr Andrews, three or four women from the village and others, and there was a good trade with the bundling machine working at full blast. The wood came from as far as Brockhall Park and was stored in the paddock at the side.”

Jack Haddon apparently also did some black market dealing there during the War. There’s a story which says that while a deal was being struck inside the hall there was some panic because the local bobby was seen approaching. “Don’t worry,” said Jack reassuringly, “he’s only coming to pick up his joint!”

The Final days
When at last the hall was no longer used it fell into disrepair. Around 1954 the building had become unsafe, and when David Ward removed one of the beams it finally collapsed. Mr Ward had the wall built along the boundary line and many of the remaining slabs of stone disappeared in various directions.

Weedon Road/Furnace Lane

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Photo lent by Janet Randall

This photograph shows the view along the Weedon Road. The Jubilee Hall is on the right hand side and Sid Eales Cobblers shop can be seen at the end of the building.  On the left of the picture is the butchers shop and slaughterhouse. Note also the telegraph poles and the lack of proper kerbs and pavements.

Margorie Hamborg and Stephen Ferneyhough

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

Volume 1 of 4 | Chapter 7 of 13 | Pages 13,14 & 15

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Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

The Story of Heyford: The Toilet Cart V1C6

Until the l950’s there was no main sewage in the village. People had no proper sanitation, just an outside toilet with a pit or a pail. Some of these little buildings still exist as tool sheds or stores but most have gone. Inside the toilet was a bucket which would be emptied around once a week, usually onto the allotment.

Then some time in the early 1900’s the parish council organised a weekly collection of buckets. Bob Browning recalled how two men were employed with a horse and two—Wheeled cart to collect the contents once a week. The contents would be taken away for disposal. The cart had two wheels for easy tipping.

Bill Nickolls recalls that in the 1920’s there was a special cart for the purpose, shared with Bugbrooke. Jack Earl who at that time organised the collection, had to go twice a week with a horse to collect the cart from Bugbrooke. Collection in Heyford was on Monday and Friday evenings. People would put out their buckets, much as they do with their dustbins nowadays, and the cart came to empty the contents. Jack employed Bill Nickolls and Jo Charville for this task. They were provided with boiler suits, gloves, wellingtons, and flashlights with batteries. The pong was bad but the pay was good! It was done late in the evening after people were mostly indoors with the windows shut. The contents were taken to a field beyond the houses on the right hand side of Furnace Lane where they were emptied into a trench and ploughed in. Even so the field was littered with paper which had escaped the trench and blown around in the wind. Sometimes two journeys were necessary and sometimes only one. There were also one or two places on route where the buckets could be ‘unofficially’ emptied (if the contents were mostly liquid!) to avoid the need for two journeys to the official dump.

In the 1930’s the collection was organised by George Faulkner of The Bricklayers Arms. Bill Kingston remembers him parking the cart under the oak tree on the memorial green waiting. for his helpers to arrive — Ted Charville, Jo Charville, Amos Lee and ‘Tankie’ Haynes.

There are stories of one or two accidents. An evacuee boy called Tony Sweet was walking backwards up Furnace Lane where there was an ‘avenue of pails’ and he tumbled into one of the buckets. He seemingly got a good telling off because he took a lot of cleaning up. There is also a story about ‘Mucky Matthews’, who apparently fell backwards into the cart when his horse reared. Hence his name!

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

Volume 1 of 4 | Chapter 6 of 13 | Page 12

TheStoryOfHeyford_NetherHeyford_Footer

Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

The Story of Heyford: Heyford’s Bakeries V1C4

There has presumably been baking in Heyford ever since there has been a settlement here. Both Heyford and Heyford Mill are mentioned in the Domesday Book, and the proximity of the mill meant that there was always a local source of flour.

There are several records of baking in the village during the 1700’s and 1800’s:
– The Militia list of 1777 mentions Henry Burch and Robert Burch as Bakers.
– The 1841 Census lists John James, Joseph Claridge and John Cole.
– The Kelly’s directories in the 1800’s show several bakers:

  • Mrs Margaret Jones, baker and shopkeeper, 1854
  • William Claridge, baker and retailer, 1864
  • Isaac Woodhams, baker, 1864, 1869, 1877, 1885, 1890
  • Charles Smith, 1869
  • Daniel Roe, 1877

Until the first world war the building on the corner of Furnace Lane and Weedon Road (now Tops the hairdressers) was the Bakers Arms pub, so called because the landlord Mr Pinnock had a small oven for baking bread. A small oven was also discovered in the old post office building when it was demolished in the early 1950’s.

The Faulkner family 
But from the 1890’s to the 1940’s most of the village’s baking was done by Thomas Faulkner and his family. He had two sons, Walter and Wesley, and five daughters. Much of the following information came from his great grandson Dennis Clarke.

The Faulkner family ran two bakehouses. The first was in the red brick house (now number 19 Church Street) owned by Thomas Faulkner. He ran it with his son-in-law, Fred Furniss. They were from staunch Methodist families well respected in the village. They didn’t drink or smoke. Thomas Faulkner was for many years a lay preacher at the Methodist chapel, and was also the first chairman of the Parish Council.

Then some time during the first world war he established a second bakehouse with a larger oven in the building which is now number 22 Furnace Lane. One of the reasons for needing a larger bakehouse was that he supplied bread to the Weedon Barracks. It was run by his son Wesley. This became the main bakery in the village and was active for more than 30 years. His other son Walter had a bakery in Northampton.

The flour room was upstairs and the flour was fed down to the bakery via a chute. The dough was made up the night before, kneaded into loaves, laid in tins and allowed to rise. The oven was lit between three and four in the morning with faggots of wood. When it was the right temperature, the ashes were removed and the bread put in. The oven, which was well insulated, kept warm for several hours, but even so it was an inaccurate science and it wasn’t unusual for a loaf of bread to be not quite cooked in the middle.

Sunday roasts
Although the oven was used mainly for baking bread, it was also used on Sundays to cook the roasts. The villagers would bring their joints and Yorkshire puddings to be cooked while they were at church or chapel. You would put the joint on a trivet in a baking tray with the yorkshire pudding mix underneath. The fat from the meat dropped into the yorkshire pudding mix as it cooked.  Wesley Faulkner charged 2d for this service. Bill Kingston remembers sitting on the flour bin waiting for the joint to cook. Sometimes it was difficult to recognise your own joint. Mrs Dorothy Kingston remembers as a girl picking up their joint on one occasion only to be tld by her mother when she got home that it was somebody else’s! When the joints came out, the cakes went in.

The bakehouse in Furnace Lane also had a little shop which sold not just bread and cakes, but also sweets and cigarettes. In the back yard they kept pigs and chickens as most people did. Outside the back door was a well and a handpump which is still there today. They also kept a pony and trap which Wesley used for making deliveries in the evenings to Stowe, Farthingstone and Litchborough, often not returning until late in the evening. The pony and trap were later replaced by a motorised van.

Wesley Faulkner pictured with his delivery van in the 1930’s

NetherHeyfordBakehouse

Photo lent by Dennis Clarke

Changing times
The bakehouse continued to run until around 1945. However, by this time larger bakeries were being established in town and cheaper mass-produced bread and cakes were becoming readily available through the other village shops.

For some years after this, bread was delivered to the Village by ‘Cooey’ Faulkner, the ‘Midnight Baker’. He was Ruskin, the son of Walter who had a bakery in Abington Avenue in Northampton.  He got his nickname because he delivered bread, often late in the evening and announced his presence by calling “Cooey!” Some people left baskets hanging outside their houses for him to leave the bread if he was very late. Part of the reason for his lateness was that he was always read to accept a cup of tea if offered one! Today the house is occupied by Dennis Clarke,a great nephew of Fred Furniss, and great grandson of Thomas Faulkner. The oven, though no longer used is still in place.

From the 1940’s until the 1980’s no bread baking took place in the village. We had moved into times of mass—production and faster road systems, so most of the bread came from large bakeries outside the village. The installation of gas, and then electricity meant that most families the 1950’s had small ovens in their own modernised kitchen.

The Bake-house in Furnace Lane

NetherHeyfordBakehouse_FurnaceLane

Photo lent by Judy Armitage

This photograph looks towards the bottom of Furnace Lane and shows the old bake-house on the left hand side. To the left of this on the far left hand side of the picture is the building previously used as the King William pub. You can see here the frame which held the pub sign. Opposite the end of Furnace Lane you can see the little building which was the original Methodist chapel built in 1838 with the plaque above the upstairs windows. To the right of this is the old thatched post office, demolished in the 1950s, and to the left is the thatched cottage occupied by Mrs Anne Clarke, Heyford’s midwife for many years, which was demolished in 1969.

Heyford Patisserie
In 1985 the Heyford Patisserie was opened next to the butchers. The business had been started two years earlier by Wendy Allen who began baking at home. Her first order was from Carol at the Olde Sun to produce pies for bar meals. Then word got around, the number of customers grew, and the business became too big to run from home. At around that time, Malcolm Tarbox (the butcher) acquired the buildings in that block. The old slaughterhouse at the end of the block was renovated and converted into the present patisserie building. On 3rd November 1985 Wendy moved into her new patisserie which gave her not only much better baking facilities, but also a retail outlet. So began a service which was much needed in a village which had doubled in size since the 1950s. Although the bread came from Tees Bakery in Grafton Street, Northampton, all the pies, quiches, and puddings were baked on the premises.

Then after 11 years of long hours, six days a Week, Wendy decided to retire and the business was taken over in 1996 by Lesley Parker who continues to run it in the same way today.

Stephen Ferneyhough

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

Volume 1 of 4 | Chapter 4 of 13 | Pages 9,10 & 11

TheStoryOfHeyford_NetherHeyford_Footer

Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

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

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

Volume 1 of 4 | Chapter 1 of 13 | Pages 2 & 3

TheStoryOfHeyford_NetherHeyford_Footer

Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers