The Story of Heyford: Rev Henry Isham Longden and Mr Fred Potter V3C10

Henry Isham Longden was born at Lamport Rectory on 26th September 1859. Following the death of Thomas Crawley in 1897 he became Rector of Heyford where he remained until his own death in 1942. He was a popular man in Heyford and in 1943, one year after his death, a book about his life entitled ‘A Northamptonshire Rector — The life of Henry Isham Longden’ was published by Joan Wake. The following is an extract from this book relating to his time at Heyford.

A Northamptonshire Rector – The life of Henry Isham Longden

Except for a brief interval during the war of 1914-1918, Heyford was Mr Longden’s home for the next forty-five years. The population of the parish was about 800. His rectory, though commodious and comfortable within, is externally an unattractive mid-nineteenth century building of local ironstone, overdone with gables and plate glass. The beautiful old church lies only some 100 yards away. His church services were, as to be expected, on the high church pattern. He introduced a choral communion service on the first Sunday of every month, at which he officiated investments, then rarely seen in a country church in the Peterborough diocese. He did not, however, indulge in extreme practices of a ritualistic type. The biretta which he had worn as a curate was discarded for a mortar-board on Sunday mornings. Though ready to suffer and possibly to fight for his opinions as other clergy had done, there was no occasion for it – his bishops left him in peace.

In the musical part of the services he was faithfully and ably assisted by Fred Potter, a man of musical ancestry and himself of no inconsiderable musical gifts. Fred had learnt to play the organ at the age of eleven, and officiated voluntarily as a boy at Shangton Church. At Heyford he became honorary organist and choirmaster, and so remained for forty-five years until his master’s death.

Mr Longden always attended the weekly choir practice and wrote out the lists of hymns and chants himself. Until the later years he taught in the Sunday School. On the friendliest terms with his parishioners, he took an interest in the social as the religious activities of the parish. One of his first acts was to collect funds for a church room which after six or seven years he succeeded in building. He founded a village cricket club, and for years was a member of the eleven. The village lads were very fond of him and he corresponded with many of them during the war of 1914-18. He had one or two pupils at the Rectory during the early years, including the Crawley boys from Stowe-nine-churches Rectory.

From the beginning Mr Longden always farmed his own glebe, though the management was left largely in the capable hands of Mr Potter, whose whole heart was in the work. A great reputation was made with the Heyford strain of Berkshire pigs, as also with the hunters, bred and trained on the place, for which purpose a short ‘steeple-chase’ course was laid out. The Hunters’ Improvement Society’s Show at Islington in March, at which many prizes were won, was an important annual event, which was much enjoyed by both master and man.

The Rectory garden, too, except in Winter time, was always ablaze with masses of flowers. The greenhouse also was full of carnations, begonias, cyclamen, and other flowering plants, all under the care and supervision of Mr Potter. He had from the first days at Shangton always lived under his master’s roof, but when in 1901 he married Miss Bertha Nightingale of Pattishall, he moved to a cottage in the village. This arrangement did not last long, and in 1902, to everybody’s satisfaction, they were allotted pleasant rooms at the Rectory. The bacon-curing, butter-churning, and domestic work of the house were carried out by this devoted couple. The affection and respect which they had for Mr Longden was heartily reciprocated, and the party at the Rectory was essentially a happy and contented one.

Rev Henry Isham Longden with Fred Potter

All the Longden children had been taught to ride at Lamport Rectory, but though he kept a horse at Shangton and was always fond of riding, as a young man Mr Longden did not shew any sporting proclivities. After a few years at Heyford, though not actually ill, his health was not up to the mark and Potter suggested that an occasional day with the hounds might do him good. He had bought his brother Arthur’s mare when the latter went out to the South African war in 1899, so now had a suitable mount. Mr Longden agreed, his health improved, and he soon developed a great love of the chase, though he was rather ‘a parson who hunted’ than one of the old-fashioned type of hunting parson like his great-grandfather the Rev. Vere Isham.

Heyford lies just inside the Pychley country, on the borders of the Grafton, but though he would take an occasional day with the former pack, Mr Longden always considered himself a Grafton man. The masters liked to see the sport patronised by the cloth, and Mr Longden’s ‘cheery courtesy and inveterate love of little jokes,’ as Mr Cruft writes, ‘made him ever welcome, even to the most anti-clerical followers of the hounds.’ Well-mounted and well turned-out in top hat, black coat and white cord breeches, he arrived at the meets accompanied by Potter, who besides enjoying the sport quite as much as his master, was thus able to school – and sell – the young hunters bred at Heyford Rectory. Then General Livingstone-Learmouth came to live at the parish, and for eight years after the war Mr Longden hunted regularly two days a week from the middle of November right through the season. (He never cub-hunted). The General used to drive him to the meets, Potter going on with his horse. One day with the Pychley – the meet was at Cottesbrooke – hounds had a great run from Maidwell gardens by Kelmarsh, Arthingworth, Braybrooke, nearly to Brampton Ash, and finally killed not far short of Market Harborough. The General was galloping along beside his Rector. “Padre, I can’t go on any more,” he called. “no man ever stopped in the middle of a run in the Pychley country!” shouted back the parson. Both sportsmen were in at the death, and rode home together the many weary miles to Heyford, gruelling their horses at the Ismays at Hazelbeach on the way.

Then one sad day in the March on 1928, when hounds were running near Preston Capes, someone inadvertently slammed a gate in front of Mr Longden. He tried to pull up but there was not time. His horse swerved and jumped the gate-post, throwing him onto his head on the hard road. Only his top hat saved him from breaking his neck. Potter was with him in a moment and took him home. This was the end of the hunting. The old horse was turned out to grass and Mr Longden was no more to be seen with the hounds. He was then in his seventieth year.

Fred Potter

The relationship between Mr Longden and Fred Potter was obviously a very close one. Joan Wake’s book includes an appendix headed ‘Faithful Service’ which includes the following words written by Canon F. S. Keysell, Vicar of East Haddon, and formerly Vicar of Weedon.

“No record of the late Rev H. Isham Longden at Heyford could be complete without a reference to his trusty servant and faithful friend for 50 years, Mr Fred Potter. In his early days at Heyford Mr Longden used to drive a horse and trap, but with the coming of motor cars and the increase of road traffic and consequent inconvenience, Mr Longden, like many others, though he never went in for a motor car, decided to give up driving and took to a bicycle. It was then, and not till then, that Mr Longden, acting on the advice of Potter decided to take to hunting, for though he had always been fond of a horse, he had never previously appeared in the hunting field.

Potter, who had always been a good judge of a horse, was soon able to fix the Rector up with the right sort of mount, and not feeling it advisable for him to go alone, decided that it would be in the best interests of all concerned that he should accompany his master in the capacity of second horseman. Henceforth for many years the Rector and his groom were generally to be found at meets of the Grafton hounds on Mondays and alternate Fridays, with an occasional meet of the Pychley on Saturdays thrown in. Though Potter made it his first business to see that his master was in the same field with the hounds not only at the meet, but also when they were running, and though he always seemed to be in the right spot when a lead was required over a difficult jump, yet at the same time Potter was generally to be found here, there, and everywhere. Did any rider take a toss and let go his horse? Potter was always there to catch the animal, and if need be to render first aid to its owner. Did anyone at the tail end of a hunt forget to shut a gate? Potter was always there to do the needful in time to prevent any cattle from straying. Did anyone lose their bearings and not know how to find their way home or the place where they had left their car? Potter was always there to tell them, and if necessary to point them by the shortest cut.

Potter soon came to be recognised as an authority on horseflesh, and it became widely known that in the stables at Heyford Rectory there was sometimes to be found a useful, well-trained type of hunter for sale. Would-be purchasers, however, were warned that it was no good going to Heyford with that object in view on a Sunday morning (which alas! had become the fashionable day for such transactions), because at that time the Rector would be standing in the pulpit and Potter would be sitting at the organ, where for many years he acted as voluntary organist and trainer of the choir.

A nasty hunting accident some fifteen years ago when he was then about seventy years of age ended Isham Longden’s hunting career, and Ruby, the much loved horse which had carried him so well for many years, was turned out in the Rectory field where he was allowed to end his days in peace.

Fred Potter, on the right

Photo lent by Charlie Masters

Potter, however did not allow himself to be downcast because he had no more days to look forward to in the hunting field, but turned his attention to gardening (with the exception of an occasional day’s shooting) and soon the Rectory garden became as well worth a visit as had been the stables in earlier days. On one occasion he was showing the beauties of the garden to the writer of this article. Potter remarked to him “There can be no such thing as a groom-gardener, you must be one or the other – you must concentrate!”

The passing of Isham Longden in the early summer of 1942 meant the breaking up of the home in which Fred Potter and wife had for over 40 years devoted themselves heart and soul to all that concerned the well-being of their master and friend, but it has not meant the breaking up of Potter.

The latest report about him is that he is now farming at Heyford on his own account, for though he is old in years he is still young in mind and body. His many friends will wish him every success and if, when the war is over and the country has settled down, ‘Grafton Mondays’ come into their own again, all followers of the hounds will know that there is one farm in that county at all events on which they can be sure of a hearty welcome, and on which the gates and fences will be in good order, and there will be no barbed wire to obstruct. Potter has, and always has had, that mark of the true sportsman that he likes to share his pleasures with others and to enable them to enjoy to the full the things which he has enjoyed so much himself.”

The words of Canon F. S. Keysell, former vicar of Weedon

The memories of Bill Nickolls

A number of local people still remember Mr Longden and Fred Potter, and talk about them with affection. Mr Longden was a kind man who could relate to people of all ages and backgrounds. If you were unwell in hospital he would visit you, ‘even if you attended chapel rather than church!’ The church in those days (19205 and 30$) was well attended. It was normal to go three times a day – morning service at 9.00am, bible classes in the afternoon and evening service at 6.00pm.

Bill Nickolls particularly remembers the choir. It was a full choir, singing all parts. Some of the attendees were Harry Eales, Fred Goodman, Mr Pearson, Charlie Foster, Nell Nickolls, Freda Tebbit, Doll Collins, Ethel Barnes, Bill Nickolls, ]o Nickolls, and ]ack Nickolls. Choir practice on Friday evenings Was run by Fred Potter who was a skilled and knowledgeable musician. He also made it fun. He used to send out to the shop for some sweets and they sometimes played games.

The will of the Rev. Henry Isham Longden

Henry Isham Longden suffered a stroke and finally died in the arms of his friend and servant Fred Potter on Sunday April 26th 1942 at the age of 82 years. The following details from his will are reprinted here from a newspaper cutting (date and source unknown).

‘The Rev. Henry Isham Longden of Heyford Rectory,.who died on April 26 last, left £11,168 9s 1d gross with net personalty £9,725 8s 7d. He left certain furniture and his horses and crops etc. to his faithful friend and servant Frederick W. Potter, and £1,500 upon trust for him for life, and then upon trust for his wife for her life. £300 upon trust to pay the stipend of the organist of Heyford Church. £100 to the rector and churchwardens to provide an additional bell for the church, and £50 to complete the church room.’

Fred Potter

Fred Potter moved to a house in Church Lane and kept a small dairy herd in the field opposite (now known as Rice’s paddock and partly built on). He continued to farm and to produce milk for the villagers. He died at Nether Heyford on November 10th 1964, aged 87 years and was cremated at Milton.

~~

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

Volume 3 of 4 | Chapter 10 of 17 | Page 20 to 24

TheStoryOfHeyford_NetherHeyford_Footer

Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

The Story of Heyford (Extra): Heyford Residents who served in WW2

Many Heyford residents served in the Second World War 1939-1945 in the various services.

Hazel Adams – Red Cross Nurse, Royal Navy

Hugh Adams – Royal Dragoons

Albert Beharrell – Army

Richard (Dicky) Bishop-Bailey – Army

Ken Boyes – Army

Helen Cadman – WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force)

Arthur Charvill – Royal Navy & Army (MP)

Harry Charvill – Army

Charles Copson – Army

Tom Davies – Fleet Air Arm / RAF

Ralph Faulkner – Bevan boy / Army

Gordon Hayes – RAF

Marjorie Hamborg – Red Cross

Frank Higginbottom – Army

Frank Hyde – RAF

Donald Jafkins – Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders

Ernest Jones – Army

Bill Kingston – RAF

Nan Kingston – WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force)

Jack Lee – Royal Engineers

Joe Matthews – Army

Charles Masters – Army

George Masters – Royal Army Medical Corps

Sheila Masters – ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service)

Sid Masters – Army

Ray Metcalfe – Army

Cyril Mitchell – Royal Army Ordnance Corps

John Moore – Merchant Navy

Rita Moore – NAAFI (Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes)

Alec Nial – Royal Navy

Bill Norrie – Royal Navy

Tom Oliver – Royal Navy

Joan Pearson – Woman’s Land Army

Dorothy Reeve – COD (Central Ordnance Depot)

Margaret Reeve – Woman’s Land Army

Derek Roberts – Royal Marines

Paul Rogers – Royal Army Medical Corps

William Rogers – HAC (Honourable Artillery Company)

Jack Rossiter – Royal Army Ordnance Corps

Dennis Searle – Merchant Navy

Frank Townsend – Army

Arthur Turland – RAF

Mabel Wallace – WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force)

William Wallace – Highland Light Infantry

Dennis Weaver – Royal Army Intelligence Corps

Bert Wilkinson – 13/18th Hussars

Rev Wintersgill – Queens Royal Regiment

 

And those sadly killed in action:

Charles Leslie Foster – Flight Sergeant (Air Gunner) RAF – Killed in Action 23.5.1944 – Aged 24

Frederick Heeler – Lance Corporal Army – Killed in Action 24.7.1944 – Aged 28

Frederick Watson – Sapper Army – Killed in Action 10.10.1944 – Aged 22

John Bennett Whiting – Lieutenant Army – Killed in Action 1.9.1942 – Aged 25

 

 

Published in The Prattler – July & August 2020

Many thanks to Hugh Adams for originally compiling a list and to those that have contacted us and added to it since the original publication via the

Facebook “Nether Heyford Past” group

Jez Wilson

The Story of Heyford: Nether Heyford Women’s Institute V4C1

One day in 1930 three ladies were walking back to their homes in Nether Heyford. They  had been attending the monthly meeting of the Women’s Institute in Bugbrooke, where they had been members for three years. They were Mrs J.O. dams, mother of Mr Hugh Adams, Mrs Punch, and Mrs George. As they walked along the quiet lane they discussed the formation of a W.I. in Nether Heyford, and Mrs Adams volunteered to see the County Secretary at W.I. House in Northampton. When the required ten ladies had been gathered together, the foundation papers were signed – with nervously shaking hands – in November 1930.

The Programme from 1938

TheStoryOfHeyford-NetherHeyford_W1_P2

TheStoryOfHeyford-NetherHeyford_W1_P3The early years
Mrs Adams was the first President and Mrs George the Secretary. Their meetings were held in the school where Mrs Carrington, the Headmaster’s Wife, supplied the hot water to make the tea. Cups and saucers were loaned by the Baptist Chapel, carried over in a clothes basket and then washed up before their return. The activities were varied, speakers on subjects of interest to countrywomen, competitions of all kinds, and classes on old-time dancing and keep fit. Subscriptions were 2/6d which though seeming a small amount, was about on a par with those paid today.

A link was formed with a W.l. in Queensland, Australia, and members found much interest in exchanging news and views with an organisation on the other side of the world. During the War, parcels were gratefully received by members, in particular those containing soap, which was in very short supply. Another link nearer home, and in more recent days, was formed With Delapre Townswomens Guild. This continued for many years into the 1980s, with enjoyable get-togethers and exchange of ideas.

For many years meetings were held in the Baptist Chapel Schoolroom, but quite early on the W.I. had an ambition to have its own hall, so a Building Fund was established and money-raising events of all kinds began, including a garden party at the Manor house, then occupied by Mrs Shiel (Vice-Chairman at the time). The sum of £100 was raised, but the W.l. Hall was not to be and the money was eventually passed on to the committee set up to establish a Village Hall. This was eventually completed in 1960 on ground that had belonged to Mr Adams, With the help of village volunteers from all walks of life.

TheStoryOfHeyford-NetherHeyford_W1_P4

Wide ranging activities
The activities of the Institute are far—reaching. The subjects of our speakers and demonstrators are extremely varied. “Jam”? Yes, why not? And pickles, cakes, and grub of all kinds. Not to mention handicrafts, art, gardens, games and sport, local and family history, wild life and conservation, public speaking. “Jerusalem”? Well, no, not these days at our local meetings, though it is always sung with gusto at county and national events.

An annual produce show, open to all village residents, started in 1969, still continues in 1999, and creates much interest and fun.

Teams from our W.I. have done well in general knowledge quizzes run by the County Federation. In 1968 Mrs Judy Ward, Mrs Sheila Masters and daughter Hilary were the winners, and in 1994 we triumphed again, this time with Mrs Hyde, Mrs Essery and Mrs Joan Wright joining Mrs Masters.

For many years W.I. members have helped at the Blood Donors Clinic which is set up in the Village Hall twice a year. We serve the donors with the welcome tea and biscuits after they have given their life-saving blood.

Fund raising is a perennial occupation for all village organisations, and the W.I. is no exception. As well as making sure that we cover all our own expenses – speakers, hall fees, etc – these days we concentrate on raising funds for the Village Hall, now our regular and familiar meeting place. Money-making events include antiques evenings, occasional lunches (appropriately called ‘Nosh and Natter’) where senior citizens enjoy good food and good company, concerts (with, of course, nosh) and a stall (selling, of course, home—made nosh) at the annual Village Hall Fete, at which members have been known to dress up in weird and wonderful array — St Trinian’s and the Mad Hatters Tea Party are amongst the more memorable.

In the wider world our members take part in County Federation events. There is a tree planted in our name in Brixworth Country Park. Each year we discuss and vote on resolutions to be brought up at the National General Meetings, the results of which are passed to Governments, so that our W.I. plays an integral, if small, part in bringing subjects of importance to government attention, and action has been taken in many areas from these. Every few years we send a delegate to represent our W.I. and several others, and their reports are heard with great interest.

Canadian origins
All this started, not in England’s green and pleasant land, but in a small Canadian town called Stoney Creek, where a farmer’s wife, Mrs Hoodless, lost a child and realised that this was happening far too often to women of her generation owing to ignorance of simple health and hygiene rules. She made it her life’s work to help educate women so that they could have happy and healthy families. And on 19th February 1897 the first W.I. in the world was inaugurated at Stoney Creek.

The movement came to Britain in 1915 – the first W.I. being formed in Llanfairpwll in Anglesey, and the national Federation was established in 1917. One can scarcely believe that in those days it was difficult to find the 2/- (10p) subscription and to obtain the husband’s permission to attend meetings. However the enthusiasm of those early members surmounted all obstacles, and while the emphasis was on skills for country living, their horizons were immensely widened. I suppose it would be called ‘empowerment’ these days. Women who would have said they ‘couldn’t do anything,’ suddenly found that they could hold a meeting together, speak in public, demonstrate their skills and share their experiences. Many members have increased their skills and developed their talents at Denman College, the W.I.’s own Adult Education College in Oxfordshire. Opened in 1948 and named after Lady Denham, the first National Chairman, it offers courses to members on anything from painting to philosophy, from lace-making to local government, opening to women whole new worlds.

TheStoryOfHeyford-NetherHeyford_W1_P6

Seventy years and still going strong
Nether Heyford W.I. has passed its Silver, Golden and Diamond jubilees, and our ‘70th’, whatever that is called, comes up in the year 2000. It would take too much time and space to enumerate all the fine personalities who have graced our membership down the years. But we remember with pride some of those who have gone from us. Mrs Adams, the first and longest serving president – twenty-two years non stop. Mrs George, founder member and long time secretary and president. Mrs Nora Humphrey and Mrs Lou Garrett (later Robinson), both stalwart members and both serving as treasurer for many years. Mrs Ellen (Nen) Blaney, enthusiastic and generous-hearted member, Mrs Hilda Chapman, long serving secretary, instigator and for years the organiser of our produce show. Mrs Eve Gothard, County Committee member and enthusiast for our overseas connections. And Mrs Nellie Clements, willing, skillful, tireless committee worker, the kind of member who is the backbone of our movement.

Back in 1897, Canadian women chose for their motto, ‘For home and country’, and despite all the changes and modern improvements that have taken place down the century, it is difficult to think of a phrase that more closely reflects the purpose of the Women’s Institute movement.

Sheila Masters (with the help of Maureen Wright, and other members)

~~

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

Volume 4 of 4 | Chapter 1 of 8 | Pages 2 to 6TheStoryOfHeyford_NetherHeyford_Footer

Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

The Story of Heyford: Heyford Manor and the Manor House V2C5

In DESIRABLE FREEHOLD ESTATE
Consisting of The
MANOR or REPUTED MANOR
of
HEYFORD
Stone—Built Mansion or Manor House
with
Suitable Offices, Stabling, Gardens etc.
And
Sundry Eligible Farms with their Suitable Buildings
And
528A. 2R. 28P. of uncommon rich Arable, Meadow
Pasture and Wood Land
Let to Tenants on Leases which will expire at Lady Day next, at very low Old Rents (the Wood Lands in Hand included) of
FIVE HUNDRED AND NINETY~NINE POUNDS

These are how the Particulars and Conditions of Sale read on Thursday, February 2nd, 1792 at the Auction held by Mr Christie at his Great Room in Pall Mall. At that time a Fee Farm Rent, payable to the King was 3s. 4d, Land Tax for the whole of the Estate was £54.16s.0d and various Tithes to be paid meant total outgoings of ,£112.6s.9d. Part of the outgoings included an Annual Payment of £20 to the Hospital at Northampton, “out of which £4 is allowed in Land Tax”. The actual Manor House was much smaller than it is now — the East and West Wings came at the turn of the Century and the small ‘Garden House’ at the back, although keeping the original frontage and downstairs room complete with large stone fireplace, was added to as late as 1982.

The early estate

The original Manor House was at Upper Heyford and the remains of its foundations can still be seen. This was the Manor House of the Mauntells and Morgans, Prestons and Herbert Marquis of Powis and is supposed to have stood in the field called the Upper Park. John Mauntell of Heyford, descended from Michael Mauntell of ‘Rode’ married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of John Lumley (also reputed to be of Heyford) and ‘levied fine of Heyford Manor’ in the reign of Henry VI (around 1446) and so founded a dynasty of Mauntells at Heyford.

Prior to the Mauntells the Tudenhams ruled the roost at Heyford (also ‘big’ in Suffolk; as you approach Bury St Edmunds you can see the village of Tudenham signposted) and presumably occupied the old Manor House, but we are going back to 1333 here and records are a little vague as to Lords of the Manor, but they were certainly large land owners and owned “the manor of Heyford with pertinences, lands and tenements in Bugbrook, Flore and Farthingstone, Grimscote, (Cold) Higham and Carsecoell (Carswell in Greens Norton?), lands and tenements in Cold Ashby and West Haddon”.

The Mauntells

What we do know, however, is that the ‘younger generation’ of Mauntells let the family name down as John and Elizabeth Mauntell had a son, Walter, later knighted, (buried in Heyford with his wife also called Elizabeth) and his son and heir, ]ohn Mauntell, well and truly blotted the family name. In 1541 John “sallying forth in company with his brother-in-law, Lord Dacre, and others, on a nocturnal frolic to chase the deer in Sir Nicholas Pelham’s park in Sussex, encountered three men, one of whom being mortally wounded in the affray; he and his associates were convicted of murder, executed, and their estates escheated to the crown.”

And to make matters even worse and to complete the irretrievable ruin of the house, his only son Walter Mauntell engaged in the Kentish insurrection to oppose the marriage of Queen Mary, headed by Sir Thomas Wyatt, and was taken prisoner with him, sent to the Tower and subsequently executed in Kent, 27th February 1553 and ‘attainted’ (i.e. he lost his estate to the crown).

However, due to a bit of forward planning the Manor was saved from the general wreck of the family fortune as John Mauntell had made a settlement of the Manor to his wife Anne (leafing through old cuttings I came across an article on the Manor written in the Herald September 1908 which said it was his mother, sister of Lord Dacre, who was the recipient of the settlement, but I am sure the Press were apt to make errors even then as old family trees show his wife Anne to have inherited) who with her second husband Richard Johnson and Francis Morgan ‘serjeant—at-law’ (who was lessee for the years 1555-56), “levied a fine of the three manors of Heyford, Over Heyford and Nether Heyford and the advowson, or rather two thirds of the advowson, of Nether Heyford, to the use of Sir Richard Sackville and his heirs.”

The Morgans and Prestons

This meant that Sackville took over the Mauntell estates in Heyford but Francis Morgan soon after obtained the ‘fee simple’ and after Francis Morgan died in 1558 ( he and his wife Anne are buried at Heyford) the estates descended to his son Thomas. However in the archives it is written that Matthew Mauntell ‘of Horton and of Collingtree’ son of the executed Walter, ‘was restored to his father’s estate in the 15th reign of Elizabeth’. This would make it 1573. So it is unclear whether there was another (short) ‘reign’ of Mauntells in between the Morgans.

In any event Thomas Morgan’s daughter and heiress married Sir John Preston of Furness in Lancashire and he was succeeded in his title and estates by his brother Sir Thomas Preston who in May 1685 settled the manors of Heyford, Nether Heyford and a whole lot more on Mary his eldest daughter and co-heiress in marriage with William Lord Herbert, son and heir of William Earl of Powis.

Now, the Earl was zealously attached to James II who selected him to accompany the Queen to France and on abandoning the throne in 1688 James joined them both there. In return the King gave him the titles of Duke of Powis and Marquis of Montgomery. But the Duke was outlawed for remaining abroad in the service of the deposed monarch and died at the court of St Germain’s in 1696.

After a lapse of 30 years, a ‘mandamus’ (judicial writ issued from the King’s Bench Division) was granted and it was accordingly reversed by the court of the King’s Bench in April 1722; by which reversal his only son, William Lord Herbert (as above) then Viscount Montgomery, was restored to the Marquisate and all the other honours to which his father was entitled prior to James II leaving his throne.

The Dukedom and second Marquisate were never legally recognised in England, though generally adopted by courtesy. William the 3rd Marquis or Duke of Powis, only surviving son of the preceding, died unmarried in 1747 and the titles became extinct; but by his will, dated 28 April of that year he left his extensive family possessions (by-passing his several sisters) in trust for Henry Arthur Herbert, then Lord Herbert of Chirbury, who was afterwards created Earl of Powis and in 1751 married Barbara, the posthumous daughter and heiress of his brother Edward.

Decay

Now, if you can keep up with any of this, comes the crunch. The Trustees under the Marquis’s will were empowered to sell all or any part of the Northamptonshire estates towards the liquidation of his debts, and towards raising a fund for working his lead mines and in November 1758 with the approbation of the Earl of Powis and under the authority of an act of Parliament, confirming the authority of the Trustees, the whole, comprising the manors of Heyford and surrounding manors with about 3000 acres of land were disposed of in lots by public auction and produced the princely sum of £65,424.

By this time Sir Thomas Preston may have demolished the actual Manor House, or it may have fallen into general decay during the Commonwealth period (the 1650s). Here again the Herald (and this is substantiated) states that early in the Civil war the Manor House was uninhabited. It was still unoccupied in 1652 as we learn from an entry in the Parish Registers (“lying open into vagrants”).

But in any event the estate itself remained intact and Miss Nelson writes “in 1758 the estate was sold by auction in London, the business taking three days. The names of some of the tenants of farms at that time were Ed Middleton, Richard Gardner, Sam Newbold, Thomas Payne and Richard Claridge. Also Will Simons, who farmed Pond Close, or Pastel Pan and Pastle Pightle. Other field names mentioned in the catalogue are The Spung, Stocking Meadows, Worsten Pond Field, Talland, Adal, Bell Pool Leys, Flash Close and Blakes Hitch.”

Thus the old Manor met its demise and its vast estates were split up.

A new house is built

But a new era had already begun with the building of the new Manor House where it still stands, in Nether Heyford. It is believed to have been built about 1740 by William the 3rd Marquis of Powis (as above) using the stone from the original Manor. (The earliest date found on the old walls of the existing Manor is 1794 but the stone is worn and could read ‘1714’). Some researchers have stated the Manor and 30 acres was then bought by Rev Henry Jephcot in 1759 (who in 1789 became Rector of Heyford) but according to Joan Wake in her book ‘The Life of Henry Isham Longden’ published in 1942 she states “Heyford, like Stowe IV (now Stowe IX) Churches was a Crawley living, a member of that family having bought the two advowsons and the Manor House at Heyford in 1764.”

Churchmen take up occupancy

However according to the auction details of 1792 they clearly state that the Manor was let to the Rev Mr Henry Jephcott “at Will, at a low old rent of £63.0s. 0d” so he would have been a tenant at that time. In 1800 we know that he died and the property passed to his daughter Elizabeth and her husband the Reverend R B Hughes, Rector of Kislingbury. And they must have owned the property as in 1802 they sold the house and land to Reverend John Lloyd Crawley who in 1800 had succeeded Henry Jephcott as Rector of Heyford. John Crawley remained at Heyford as both Rector and Lord of the Manor until his death in 1850 and was succeeded as Rector by his son, Thomas, but he moved into the newly built rectory in 1851.

So, interestingly enough, for the sixty years between 1789 and 1850 there were two successive rectors who were also Lords of the Manor and it was to the Manor House that ‘privileged young people’ went for Sunday School.

When John Lloyd died in 1850 his widow Anne Crawley (at that time 65) remained in the Manor House with her sons Alfred and Charles and three domestic servants (Footman, Ladies Maid and Housemaid) until 1871 when we know from details of a Census that John Smith, Curate of Norton, his wife and their five children and four domestic servants (Cook, Housemaid, Scullery Maid and Groom) took over for the next ten years and by 1881 Charles Carden, aged 61, a retired army captain lived there with his wife, six children and four servants (Housemaid, Ladies Maid, Cook and Groom), a Governess coming from as far afield as Liverpool and a Head Gardener, Richard Houghton, who hailed from Milton.

Then in 1891 Joseph Faulkner, a shoemaker aged 60 with his wife, four children, son-in-law and grand-daughter – who presumably helped out with all the chores as there were no domestic servants recorded – took over the Manor until the turn of the century when the ]eyes family arrived.

The Manor House in 1825

12_NetherHeyfordManorHouse1825

From a print lent by Tony Landon

The early 1900s – military men and merchants

Mr Jeyes was the brother of Philadelphus ]eyes who owned a chemist shop in the Drapery in Northampton. He was a ‘country gent’, sported a coach house and kept three or four hunters in the stables to the west of the Manor (now houses and garages). It was probably while the Jeyes family were in situ that a visit to Nether Heyford Church was arranged in 1906 by a local Architectural and Archaeological Society for the Archdeaconries of Northampton and Oakham as the Rector, the Rev H Isham Longden, was ‘a true archaeologist’ and a visit to the Manor House had been planned. But “time and the weather did not permit a visit” and instead they all headed back to the Rectory for tea presided over by ‘Mrs Crawley’.

After the Jeyes family moved out it was said that it was empty for a while, but then came the Muir family and documentation to this effect is available in the form of an Indenture made out in 1914 by John Buchanan Muir’s son Matthew Andrew which left everything to his wife, Jessie Agnes Muir, on the understanding she did not leave him, in which case she would lose the lot… What is interesting about this Indenture is that the Fee Farm Rent was still 3s.4d….

The Conveyance for the sale to the next occupant was dated 5th December 1919 and this was Lieutenant Colonel Livingstone-Learmouth who was based at the Ordnance Depot in Weedon and it is said that he had the house massively extended with new wings at each end. However it is more likely the East Wing was put on quite a bit earlier and the flat-roofed West Wing added during the first World War as wood was difficult to come by although one rumour has it that the occupant, a woman at the time – Mrs Muir? – could not afford a ‘proper’ roof .

The Manor house around the turn of the century

13_NetherHeyfordManorHouse1825

Gardens, stables and domestic service

But what we do know is that Frank Pearson’s parents came to Heyford in 1919, his father becoming Head Gardener at Heyford Manor until his death in 1948. Frank was born in the Head Gardener’s cottage which was situated backing on to the Churchyard and Frank himself helped his father in tending the Manor gardens. The earliest inhabitant of Heyford Manor Frank can remember was Brietmeyer “a big man who was very fond of hunting, which he enjoyed sometimes three times a week”. Certainly there are still memories in Heyford at the time of writing of the Master riding to Hounds and scattering coins to the children who had gathered in what is now Manor Walk to see this awesome sight.

But the Livingstone-Learmouth era (1920s and 30s) was probably the last of the ‘greats’ in the sense that here was a large Manor, acres of land, servants and a Head Gardener. The gardens, as remembered by Frank Pearson, comprised rose beds, rockeries, kitchen gardens,flower borders and grass walks, asparagus beds and apple stores and the horse and cart track led down to the ‘Coach Bridge’ and thereon down to the mill. Frank himself told of how he was responsible for raking the gravel drive in order to keep it tidy which ran by the existing boundary at the front of the Manor and on down to The Sun. At that time he said the servants used the West Wing and the ‘garden room’ there was the servants’ dining-room.

The whole of the bottom floor of the Manor was I believe devoted to kitchens and the old bread oven can still be seen in the middle part of the Manor – the little ‘Garden House’ at the back was reputed to be the dairy (although as the present occupants pointed out, strange that the dairy should be in the front of the building?) – and ladies from Heyford can remember helping out in these vast kitchens.

There is still an enormous cellar for the fine wines and the scribblings of the Butler above the store bins denoting the type of wine enclosed. The old bells to summon the servants are also still in place and until very recently so was the ‘dumb waiter’. In the East Wing the stairs to the attic where the servants slept are pitted with their constant footsteps and the bannisters uneven where they slid their hands down in their haste to attend to their duties. The attic roof was bare With no insulation but the coal fire must have been lit as there is an enormous chimney breast which goes through their attic rooms in order to give them some warmth. It must have been a hard life for the young girls who Would have been employed around this time.

But by now the First World War had struck, twenty three soldiers from Heyford losing their lives and Lieutenant Colonel Livingstone-Learmouth CMG, DSO, RHA unveiled the War Memorial in 1921 which stands on the green at the junction of four cross roads. The Rev Isham Longden conducted the service and amongst the names on the memorial is Captain T H O Crawley.

Bill Kingston remembers when there were no buildings between the Foresters Arms and Richard Denny’s house and there was a field stretching back to the Manor House in which the occupant at that time, Captain Shield, kept several hunters.

In 1928 another auction took place this time with only 23 acres attached, the land gradually being eroded by new buildings. This may have been bought by ‘the Diamond Merchant’. Unfortunately no other details as to this person emerges except he left strong evidence of his occupancy within the house itself!

For sale by auction – July 19th, 1928

14_NetherHeyfordManorHouse1825

From a newspaper cutting (source unknown) lent by Tony Landon

The Manor House and gardens as they appeared between the wars

15a_NetherHeyfordManorHouse1825

The surrounding fields

15b_NetherHeyfordManorHouse1825

From illustrations made by the late Frank Pearson

The post-war years

During the Second World War soldiers were billeted in the Manor and on the West Wing ground floor there was a telecommunications room for use between Bletchley Park and Weedon, the room still being there and until recently with a complicated wiring system intact.

After the War the Manor House became a school for deaf children and according to Mary Warr (wife of the former Headmaster of Bliss School) in 1970 it was still listed under ‘Schools’ in the telephone directory… However, Raymond Wray, the present Landlord of the Foresters remembers clearly seeing a plaque on the Manor with ‘St Dunstan’s’ inscribed on it so it looks as though it was actually a school for the blind. But of course there may have been two types of school here.

In the latefifties the house was up for sale again – actually I’m guessing here. I have a copy of the details but no date, the only clues being ‘after the building of the M1 and before decimalisation’ – this time at £18,500 With 18° acres, having been subject to ‘considerable expenditure’, the agents being Knight, Frank & Rutley of Hanover Square, London. Here the Agent’s details reveal that the East Wing was entirely self-contained and used for staff only. And guess What? The Fee Farm Rent payable to the Queen is listed at – 3s. 4d. per annum…!

An aerial view of the house in the late 1960s

16_NetherHeyfordManorHouse1825

An aerial photo from the late 1960s lent by Julie Rands-Allen

By the sixties the Manor was still intact but with even less land as an old aerial photograph shows the beginning of the new chalet bungalows in Manor Walk built on the grounds of the old Chauffeur’s cottage. And we know that at this time it was occupied by the Architect Mr D Harwin as he was responsible for a lot of the new bungalows materialising. Raymond Wray (at that time living in Flore) was, at twenty-seven, the General Foreman for one of Mr Harwin’s building firms and was responsible for the building of this new development and he is almost certain that it would have been Mr Harwin who purchased the Manor for the sum of £18,500.

Separate dwellings

Then in 1975 with the rising tide of up-keep costs, the Manor and all its remaining land was sold to Cooper Construction Ltd of Lichfield for a housing development known now as Manor Park. Fortunately many of the trees were given Preservation Orders (the Manor itself is a Grade II listed building) and a fine old oak and many Scots Pines stand proudly still, including a very old apple tree which would have been in the old orchard near the stables and garage block.

And the Manor House became divided into three dwellings. The frontage which sports a beautiful old sundial and small oval windows became the back and the large grassed circle. the front of the Manor. The land which swept down passed the Horestone Brook and across the Nene was now all taken up with the new development. Its Glory Days were indeed over! Manor ‘Walk became built up with even more new houses but Manor Cottage — the old Gardener’s Cottage – is still there and other cottages dotted around Manor Walk and others backing on to the Churchyard still look much the same as they did when they belonged to the Manor and its estate. And although the drive that swept through Manor Park and through to Middle Street has long gone, one of the pillars which marked the entrance is still there at 15 Manor Park in Bernard Carpenter’s back garden…

Michael N Harbour, a former member of Northampton’s Royal Theatre Company bought the East Wing and was especially delighted when the BBC offered him a leading role in ‘A Last Visitor for Mr Hugh Peter’ as it depicted the story of Cromwell’s chaplain who is spending his last days after being imprisoned by the Royalists. The Battle of Naseby took place about ten miles from the Manor and Michael believes dead bodies could easily have been buried at Nether Heyford as the soldiers returned to London. Another bit of history to add to the already long one of Heyford Manor…And we mustn’t forget a piece of recent ‘history’. In the Great Northampton Floods of Easter 1998 both the East and West Wings were flooded when the River Nene broke its banks — the worst floods for over a hundred years.

Tony Landon bought the main part of the Manor and skillfully finished converting it into a period home for his family, and the Rands-Allens (appropriately hyphenated) bought the East Wing from Michael Harbour where they have lived for the past seventeen years. Gill and Tony Pont and their family live in the West Wing, keeping all of the original features, having been there for fourteen years, and Wayne and Ann Edmonds live in the little studio at the back which Michael Harbour built and lived in for a time before moving to London. Unfortunately there appear to be no sightings of ghosts from any of the occupants.

With all its history, both actual and imagined and with all the changes the years have seen, one thing remains constant. Families have lived in the Heyford Manor House over the centuries, are doing so now and will continue to do so over the Millennium and far beyond.

Julie Rands-Allen (with a little help from some friends!)

Article updated for the years 1947-1956 in Volume 4 Chapter 6:

The Story of Heyford: The Manor House 1947-1956 V4C6

~~

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

Volume 2 of 4 | Chapter 5 of 11 | Pages 9 to 17

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

The_Story_Of_Heyford_Nether_Heyford_Ladders_1

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

The_Story_Of_Heyford_Nether_Heyford_Ladders_2

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

The_Story_Of_Heyford_Nether_Heyford_Ladders_3

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

The_Story_Of_Heyford_Nether_Heyford_Ladders_4

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)

~~

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

TheStoryOfHeyford_NetherHeyford_Footer

Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers