Memories of Redlingfield life in the early 1950s
Catherine Miller emailed me in 2021 with some of her recollections of living in Walcot in Redlingfield and she kindly agreed to me sharing them.
Long before her time it was the village workhouse and when she lived there the property, which is now one house, was two homes. At one time Eddie Coe the late and much missed village blacksmith and his family lived there.
Anyway, here are recollections of Catherine Miller nee Holloway: “Years ago, around 1950, my family lived there (in Walcot, or at least in the left-hand half facing the building from the road. “Initially it was home to my parents [John and Peggy] and we four siblings. After my mother’s death in March 1952 my father’s parents [Bill and Olive] and niece moved in to look after us whilst my father was teaching at Eye school.”
She added: “About ten years ago I visited Walcot and was astonished to see it as it was. Nobody was in so I took the liberty of looking around. The rooms that I remember as being large were of course not, and the garden ditto. There was a pond when we were there. I didn’t probe much because that’s rude. I was just delighted to have found it again.
“An elderly lady called Miss Coe lived in the right-hand house [this was probably Eddie Coe’s aunt Florence]. I think she might have been our landlady. I remember visiting her when she was bedbound. Chickens ran freely on her premises, and old bedsteads and springs were used as fencing.
“We had no electricity, with gas lighting, and just one cold-water tap. There was a gas stove in the kitchen alcove and of course a kitchen range. You didn’t speak to Grandma on Mondays as she was labouring with heating up the copper to do the weekly wash. She used the copper to boil hams and similar, too. She made a good brawn.
“There was no bathroom; we had an outside chemical loo and an earth closet that the men used. I can see in my mind’s eye my father and grandfather washing outside at the pump. They grew all the vegetables. A tin bath hung outside the back door and I can remember bath night when possibly we all used the same water in order of seniority.
“Spoiler alert for young children. I was convinced for years that Father Christmas’s sleigh ran over our roof. No doubt it was my father running a pole along the corrugated iron that was our roof. One year he made a wooden dolls’ house that was painted maroon. He must have had a job lot of maroon paint because his motorbike was also this colour as were sundry other things. I do wish I had kept the dolls’ house.
“Eventually my father remarried and moved to Margate where he had a teaching post at The Royal School for the Deaf... My grandparents moved back to their home in Peterborough, no doubt thankfully because they had all mod cons of the day at that house!
“We went on many walks. I remember particularly watching the blacksmith whacking things on the anvil at the forge...
“We went to Farmer Tidyman’s often and were allowed to play on the haystacks. Dad and the farmer had long chats.”
Catherine concluded: “I hope the foregoing is of interest to the residents of Redlingfield. I remember it as an idyllic period in my life but I bet the adults thought it was hard work!”
Catherine Miller & Mike Ager (Published in Athelington, Horham & Redlingfield News Spring 2021 issue No 52).