My Grandmother, Violet Maud Murkin, was born in Bartlow Hamlet, a few months before Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Her parents, Thomas Murkin and his wife Fanny (Lister), had moved to Bartlow from Little Bradley, in Suffolk, about a year earlier. Thomas was a farm labourer. Violet lived in Bartlow and then Linton before beginning her working life in Cambridge. She moved to Surrey to work during the Great War. It was there she met my Grandfather, Gus Woods, who was a regular soldier in the R.A.M.C. They were married in 1921, by which time he had left the Army and joined the Surrey Constabulary. The couple moved regularly around Surrey for the next 15 years, to suit the Police Service, until, in 1936, they arrived in St.Johns village, near Woking. There they remained for the rest of their married life. Gus passed away in 1963. Later Violet moved into sheltered accommodation at Bethany Place, in Woking, about 1 mile from St.Johns. Although by then she was 79, she remained very active and served as the Deputy Warden in Bethany Place until she was well into her 90’s. 

In her later years although her physical health declined Violet’s mind remained as sharp as a pin. In 1998 around the time of her 101st birthday she was visited by a lady from the Social Services who asked if she could name the Prime Minister of the day. You can imagine the surprise of her visitor when she confidently gave her not only Tony Blair’s name but also that of his wife and all of his children plus their birth dates. There were no more questions on that occasion! Sadly for all the family, Violet passed away in December 1998, two months short of her 102nd birthday.

In 1983, after encouragement by my brother Mark, Violet wrote down her life story, committing to a written form all the stories she had recounted to us over the years. This amounted to over 40,000 words written out, long hand, in a note book. To maintain her even handed approach to her two grandsons she then wrote out a second version of her story for me.

I have reproduced below the first section of Violets memoirs, which deal with everyday life in Bartlow between 1897 and 1907, when the family moved to Linton. The words are hers - with only a bit of minor editing by me. As she loved to write poems I have included one she prefaced her story with, as well as a few photographs. I hope you enjoy reading about Bartlow more than 100 years ago. 

David Woods

Reflections and Recollections 

Bartlow,Cambridgeshire and Essex, 

I often Wonder? 

Does that small village still slumber there, 

Amid the hills and woods so fair, 

Are the meadows where we used to play, 

Still full of lovely wild flower's gay, 

Does the river Granter still meander through, 

To cut the two County's in two, 

Where we paddled in the summer day's, 

picked fresh water cress on our way, 

Where we marched to Church each Sunday, 

By the graves where our loved ones lay, 

Does the Church clock still strike the hour each day, 

Used to tell us the time when we were at play, 

Is the school still there which we attended each day, 

And our little cottage not far away, 

Does the whistling trains go screaming by, 

To the little station with steps on high, 

The little friends we used to know and see, 

After long years are just a memory. 

V.M.W.

 

29 March, 1983

I was born on 20th. February 1897, the fourth daughter of Mr and Mrs Thomas William Murkin, in the small village of Bartlow, on the border's of Cambridgeshire and Essex. The River Granter ran through the village and was the border for the twocounties. Those days there was only a foot bridge over the river. The horse and carts, the only traffic we had those days, used to splash through the water and enjoy it especially on a hot day. Now they have made a road bridge for the cars. Bartlow is noted for its three hills, manmade I understand, many years ago. During the wars, they had caves in the hills, where our Soldiers hid against the enemy. They were closed in our time for safety. There was a little Church and our school nearby, where we attended each day; one shop, which was a post office and everything else; one public house, named "The Three Hills" and three large houses. Mr and Mrs ,Stutfield lived in "Crossways". She was Lady of the Manor and one of the heads of the church and school. Her sister, in one other big house, was Miss Fanny Perry. The largest one was empty for a good many years. When we met them out walking, or in their open carriage, we were expected to curtsy to them. As a tot I remember curtsying and saying “afternoon Mit Fanny”. When they visited us at school, as they did now and again, my if you had on a grubby pinafore or dirty shoes, you were for it, a show up in front of all the class. The rest of the village was cottages. Everyone knew everyone else and their history. Linton village, about three miles away, was our nearest shopping centre, though shops always came round in carts - butcher, baker, and grocer. Saffron Walden, six miles away, was our nearest town. If you are ever there, in the museum you will see some historical items found in and around Bartlow Hills from the ancients wars. We had a small railway station. The trains ran from Cambridge to Colchester and to Saffron Walden. The line is closed now.

 

I was born in the year of Queen Victoria's diamond Jubilee 1897. All the girls I knew that were born that year were named Victoria after her. I remember asking my parents why I wasn’t. My Father said “The February you were born was the warmest I ever remember. The violets were out in the garden and every morning I picked a bunch and gave to mother and we both said well we know what to call this one.” So that’s how I got my name. I was six months old when my Grandfather Murkin died and Grandmother came to live with us at Bartlow. They had been living at Bradley, in Suffolk, not many miles from Bartlow. Dad only had one sister and she died young. Mother came from Norfolk, so we didn’t meet any of her family until years later. Mother and Dad started their married life in Little Bradley. We drove them back to see the old place when we had a car. We saw the house where Dad lived as a boy and the old Church where he used to sing in the choir with his Father and was married there to Mother and the little round bungalow they lived in when they were first married. It was a Lodge tothe big house where mother used to work - a boys boarding school. I remember  my Grandmother Murkin - she alway's dressed in black, had a little bonnet with dingle, dangles on it. She often took me and my sister Daisy, who was 2 years younger than me, for walks through the gardens to see the trains go by. I started school when I was three and she often came to meet me in the afternoon. I was only four when she died. I remember how upset I was when they told me my Gran had gone to the churchyard and was not coming back. I couldn’t understand why she wanted to stay there, instead of being with us, and when I went to Church on Sunday's with the Sunday School, I used to look around to see if I could see her. I remember her funeral. I couldn’t understand, my sister Daisy and I were sent to a neighbours out of the way. I knew there was something going on. When no-one was looking, I went out and looked round the corner. I saw my Father in black, crying, and my two older sisters. Mother couldn’t go as my sister Eva was only one week old. They used to have a walking funeral those days. A bier, a wooden contraption on four wheels, with two men pulling and others walking each side and the mourner's walking behind. They always had the Church bells tolled, as soon as a person was dead. Two for a woman, three for a man, one for a child and they would ring for ½ hr. Then for a funeral all the way through the village they would toll. I can see the procession now. Perhaps nearly all the village would turn out if it was a well known person, all in black not a colour showing, marching behind with the bell dong donging all the way and every blind or curtain drawn. A funeral ora wedding was a great event in our village as we got older. My Gran died thesame year as Queen Victoria in 1901.  

People of today would think that life in a village was boring, but not in those times. Anything on everybody would join in and enjoy themselves. They all had large families and small wages - mostly farm workers on 14 shillings a week or less. How they ever managed I will never know. We were fed well, never hungry, had Sunday clothes, school clothes and some for play, but we never had any toys, only what we made for ourselves, rag dolls etc. None for Christmas or Birthday like they do today. I used to tell everyone I knew it was my birthday, hoping against hope that I might get a penny, but I very rarely did. I suppose they were precious, hard to get. Wehad no luxuries. The good old days some say, when you had to work or starve. It was good days for the rich, when they could get their work done for nearly nothing. No Childrens allowance, or pensions for the old folk. No national health. We paid in a club for our doctors' bills, which you couldn’t afford to have unless we were very ill. No running to the doctor with little complaints like they do now. Our doctor lived in Linton. He cycled everywhere and covered all the villages around. If anyone was ill in our village, Mrs Stutfield in "Crossways", being on the crossroads, always put out a red flag. The doctor, on certain days, came that way and seeing the flag went in to inquire who he had to see. No flag, no illness. It was a great event for us kids to see the red flag. We couldn’t get home quick enough to tell our Mum. It would soon be all over the village. Perhaps it would mean another funeral, or a new born baby to go and see.                                                                                                                                                                                     

Bartlow     

The old people had no pensions. If they hadn’t saved a few pounds out of their small wages, they had to go “On the Parish”. That was looked on almost as a disgrace. They were allowed 5/- a week or got in the union for the rest of their lives - poor old things. They don’t know how well off they are today. It makes me cross when I hear them moaning. They have never been so well off. I was 3 yrs old in February as I started school after the Easter holidays. I remember well, I had my clean stiff starched goffered bonnet on and my best pinafore and was told to keep it clean. We always wore a nice pinafore those days. We were allowed to play the first few weeks then we had to start working and I’ve never left off yet, 86 years after. I often heard my mother say, “my children could read and write and do sums when they were 5 yrs old” and we could. The three R’s they called them, and it makes me furious, after the good education they have today and you hear some, when they leave school, can't read or write. It was a Church school so we had all the Church holidays. 

 

 School c.1900

[Violet marked the photograph with the initials V, B & D to indicate herself (5th from the left in the third row) and her older sisters Beatrice (4th from the left in the second row) and Dora (Theodora, 3rd from the right in the second row].

We always looked forward to Empire Day on the 24th May. We used to meet at school and each had a flag (Union Jack) and had a procession through the village to the three hills and the fields around. We had a lovely day; races, games, a picnic and a small fair and running wild. We loved those hills and fields. They were always open to the village. The lovely wild flowers that grew there you would never find anywhere else. There was lovely Bee and Fly orchids, and others I haven’t seen since’, and Totty Grass, we always called it Ladies Hair. There was a public footpath through the fields by the hills, under the lovely old beech trees, which brings you out the other side of the village into the Church Yard. We used to love that walk, picking up the beech nuts in the Autumn to salt down for Christmas. You never see such big nuts in Surrey like we had there. Half way through the walk was a little old cottage, always empty and the garden over grown. They said it was haunted. No one would live in it. We never stopped to see if it was; we never walked by it, just ran, eyeing all the time to see if we could see the ghost. I remember in the spring, daffodils and primroses were there but none of us children dare go in and pick them.

 

On May Day, 1st May, you would see the May dancers on the green. They would have poles, decorated with spring greenery and flowers and go round the houses singing songs. We always had a holiday that day and it was great fun following them around. On the 29th May was Oak Apple day. If you didn’t wear a piece of oak, you would see the boys all lined up in the school play ground with their stinging nettles, you would get them across your legs so youalways had to wear your oak. We always had six weeks holiday in the summer and often an extra two weeks if the harvest wasn’t finished. We didn’t mind. The older boys used to help to lead the horses in the fields. We used to love to take Dad a hot dinner in the fields and share with him. I remember he likeda can of cold sweet tea. I don’t remember Queen Victoria but I do remember King Edward 7th. His Coronation was August 9th 1902. I was five years old. All the flags and bunting was out. Mrs Stutfield had a large marquee on the lawn and all the village were invited to lunch. I remember we had cherry pie. I’d never seen cherries before and I swallowed a stone, so a Lady took all the stones out for me. We counted them and she was surprised to see I could count. We had races and all sorts of fun. My Dad won a running race and won a round tray with the King on it. Mother used to hang it on the wall for a picture and we had itfor years. A Lady took me round the treasure hunt and we found one penny. What excitement that was. I dont think I’d been so rich before. That made my day. I didnt want to do anything else but hold tight to my penny. Mother couldn’t do much, for Eva my youngest Sister was only a baby and Daisy wasn’t very old. 

I was with my Dad, in his garden one day, with a few more men when we watched a special train go by, full of men singing. It stopped at our little station. My Dad picked me up and ran to the fence with the others. Two large wagonetts full of soldiers singing, waving with excitement. My Dad told me long afterwards that would be the soldiers coming home from the Boer War,which had ended that year. That must have been in 1901. Our little station being the nearest for the surrounding villages. We never knew much what was going on in the world, never had a daily paper, couldn’t afford one, though they were only a half penny each. I expect they were all the happier for it. No radio's or TV's or music of any sort unless you could play something. My Dad was musical. He had his Father's melodian and often played it. When he joined the Salvation Army he played in the band. I dont know what year he joined but I must have been very young because I don’t remember him being in anything else. Every Sunday he walked to Linton Army, so we didn’t see much ofhim. Our Sunday School teacher was Miss Mabel Stutfield and she was a dear. We all loved her. We went to Sunday School every week at 10 a.m. for nearly an hour, then marched to Church for the 11 a.m. service until 12 a.m. then home for dinner, then school again in the afternoon. If we got our clothes messed up we were forit.       I know I was always in trouble. I was about 7 or 8 years old when Miss Mabel got married and went away to live. It was in the summer time for it was a lovely hot day, and what a wedding it was. All the village turned out for it. Everyone was invited. They had a large marquee on the lawn and we had a good reception for everyone. A red carpet from the Church to the gate with a canopy overhead. All her Sunday School children were there. Miss Mabel and her mother had made all our dresses. They were of white muslin with mauve slips, narrow mauve ribbon round the neck and sleeves and wide mauve sashes and mob caps to match with mauve ribbon round. The boys had new sailor suits and hats. Girls one side of the carpet and boy's the other. After the reception, at the going away, us the children had to stand in line again and sing her a song her mother wrote. So here it is. I’ve never forgotten it:

“Oh dearest Miss Mabel, how we shall miss you, 

When after today we shall no longer see you, 

Or hear your sweet voice as on Sunday's you taught us, 

To join in the singing at school and at Church”.

We threw rose petals over the happy couple as they got into their open carriage, with two lovely horses and white ribbon, to take them to the station. We missed her very much. I heard years after she wasn’t very happy. 

We had a nice Vicar. The Rev Weston was his name. All the village liked him. He used to visit a lot and was very nice to us children, but he died when I was about six years old. All the children marched from the school to the Vicarage to see him laid out in his coffin. I remember someone lifted me up to see him because I wasn’t tall enough. I know there was trouble for someone because we should not have gone and our parents were cross about it when we told them. I know I told my Mum that he was fast asleep in a wooden box. She couldn’t believe they had let us see him. His family was away buying their black and didn’t know anything about it until the next day. He was buried in our Church Yard. The children took bunches of flowers for him. I walked through the hills footpath with Gus year's after and stopped by his grave - neglected and forgotten, thats life. The Vicar that took his place was the Rev May. After our dear Mr Weston no one liked him. He was alright, so different, very abrupt and outspoken, but you know what village people are (or don’t you?). If they get it into their heads they don’t like people they don’t and nothing will alter them. He came to visit my mother once when she was ill. As he was going out of the door he threw a sixpence on the bed and said “that will buy some cotton to mend your children's clothes”. I can just hear my mother saying “my children’s clothes don’t want mending”. If she had been well enough I guess he would have got it back at hishead. I don’t expect he meant anything really, it was the way he said it. Mother never forgave him. He should have said “buy your children some sweets”. Itwould have sounded better. After we left Bartlow, when I was ten year old, I went back to stay a few days with a friend of mine. We went to Sunday School and sat in the back row. The Vicar was taking the class. He noticed me, asked how I was, and asked me if I liked my new home. Of course all the other children turned round to look, and he shouted at them “Turn round children. If the Lord, God Almighty, wanted you to see behind he would have put eyes in the back of your head”. I never forgot. When I got home I told Dad and Mum. We all had a good laugh and long after you would hear it in our family.

Bartlow Fair was on the 12th June in the three hills field - stalls and a small fair. People came from the villages around. We always looked forward to it and enjoyed ourselves. I liked Bartlow school, it was only small, not too many children. The teacher's were nice. I can't remember the names of the early ones; Miss Dockerill was the infants teacher and Miss James our head mistress. She madeour lesson's very interesting. History, nature study and composition were my favorites. I remember I wrote a composition on the life of an oak tree. She thought it was good, so read it out to the class when Mrs Stutfield was there. I know she said this child has imagination. I thought it was some awful complaint until I asked my mother. She taught us to save our pennies with a form you got from the Post Office with twelve squares. When you had filled them up with twelve penny stamps you had a post office savings book. When I left school I was the proud possessor of 5/- in my book. That’s all I had to startout in the wide world with. She taught us to knit stockings - all black in those days. The wool was only 1 or 2d an oz. We made our stockings for the winter. They were warmer and cheaper than the bought ones, much to my regret, for when I wasn’t working I was knitting. Round and round this black wool, till I nearly went round the bend myself. That wasn’t all; when the feet wore out mother would cut them off pick up the stitches again and we would have to re-feet them. I often think now what a job to give a little child to do. 

At school, with our teacher's help we got up some nice concerts for Christmas and prize giving evenings. Our parents used to come. It was a great time. I mostly had a say or do something in the plays, though I wasn’t much good, too nervous. For Christmas she used to send away for advert novelties. We all had some. One we always liked, looked like a plain piece of paper with a black spot. You touched the spot with a piece of hot string and watch it smoulder into words like “Beecham's Pills”. 

Miss James lived in Linton, by the Church. She walked to Bartlow and back every school day, whatever the weather, until she got married in 1908 (when I was 11 years old). Just before the wedding, on a lovely summer day, she invited the whole school over to her home for a tea party. We had a lovely time. She lived in a thatched cottage and an old world garden, with the river running through. It’s still there in Linton. I don’t know who owns it now. Years after, when I went home on holiday, I used to go and visit her. She was always pleased to see me. The last time I saw her she was well but getting deaf. I’ve heard early this year (1983) she died at the age of 100 years. My eldest sister, Theodora, lives near her. She told me she was 100 yrs old on 31st Dec 1982. She didn’t live long after her birthday.

In Bartlow village, my mother had a friend. They had one daughter (Rose) pampered and spoiled and two years younger than me. She never liked her with the other children, so most Saturday’s I was supposed to go and play with her. I hated it. She always wanted her own way in everything. There was one consolation; I had one penny for going that helped to fill up my P.O. forms and I always had a lovely dinner and tea, much better than I had at home. We had bread and butter with jam on. That was a rare treat for me. At home we either had butter or jam. We also had lovely cake and jam tarts which I loved and still do. I didn’t half used to tuck in. I expect they thought I was half starved but I wasn’t. We always had enough to eat at home but not so nice. Rose used to pick at her food, and I remember her Father saying once why can’t she eat her food and enjoy it like Violet does. When we asked at home for bread and cheese, we had a big slice of bread with cheese as big as an OXO cube. My Dad used to say you must eat your bread and smell your cheese. That’s what we had to do or go without. I remember one spring they had to close the school because we all had mumps. We didn’t mind a nice long holiday. Miss Stutfield bought a bale of red flannel and went round to all the families and we all had some round our necks. Then we were called the red flannel village. I had whooping cough very bad when I was about six years old. Mother tried all sorts of things. We never had a Doctor with those childish complaints. Then an old Gypsy came round and told her of a good cure. Mother reckoned it cured me. Hold your breath for its not nice, only you asked for it. It was a big garden slug sewn in a muslin bag, tied around my neck, so the bag lay on my chest. How long I can't remember, quite a time, a few weeks until I stopped coughing. What would Rosemary (*) think about that. One good thing came out of it. I was a sort of a celebrity in the village. No one else had anything like that. I got some sweets. The other kids used to say, “I'll give you a sweet if you let me look”, so I had quite a few, much to my Sister's annoyance. Mother didn’t make me share. She said I think she deserves them. Now you know why I've hated the slimy things ever since. 

 

 Bartlow 1907

[This      photograph of Bartlow was taken in 1907.  Violet didn’t know who took      the photograph but it shows the children walking home from school. The      children are, from left to right, Eva Murkin (Aged 6yrs), an unknown      friend, Violet (10yrs),  an unknown friend, Beatrice Murkin (12yrs)      and Daisy Murkin (8yrs)

When my brother Bill was born I was 81/2 years old. Mother had to go into Hospital for his birth. We had to stay with her friend. We didn’t like it much but we were altogether. I heard one day as I came out of school that she was home and did I run all the way home. I was glad to see Mum, but did I have a surprise when I saw the baby. She told me it was a brother for me after having so many sisters. I was pleased. She let me nurse him because she said he was more like me than any of the other's. I don’t think I should have been so pleased if I’d known the trouble he would get me in later, for when he was a toddler I was his nursemaid and he was a devil for the water. The river was so near us though it wasn’t deep, only when it was in flood. He was in it every time you left go of his hand. I was always taking him home wet. I remember I had been told there would be a good hiding for me if he came home wet. Several of us were playing in the fields and I had order's to bring him home for his nap when we heard the 11 o’clock train go by. Well he ran for the water and fell. I could have killed him on the spot. We took all his clothes off and hung them on the bushes to dry. The sun wasn’t warm enough to dry them so early in the morning. Here comes the train and you couldn’t say you hadn’t seen it, for when the driver saw us he would blow his old whistle and wave, so I had to dress him in his damp clothes. My sister Dora came to meet us. She was an old tell tale and shouted to mother “he has been in the water”. Mother said “has he, no he has wetted himself “whichwasn’t untrue. She couldn’t say much because a day or two before she had him out walking when he saw us running home from school. He left her hand, to run to us, when at that moment a car came rushing down the hill through the water. It was the first we had ever seen and we were all gazing in wonder at the car, not at little Willie. It was too much for him. He chased the car right through the splashes and sat down in the middle of the river all in his best clothes. Wasn’t I glad, for Mother was supposed to be looking after him. I dare not laugh but it was afunny sight. I often wonder that he lived to grow up at all, me being his nurse. He was a pretty little boy, fair, big brown eyes, rosy cheeks, more than onestranger has asked me who's pretty little baby he was. Our river flooded in the rainy season and as I have said before we only had a wooden foot bridge to cross. The river ran over the road. They used to come to the school early to say “will the children that live on the other side of the river go home as soon as possible as the water is rising fast”. That was us and a few more. We didn’t mind. We used to love to watch the water. I remember once, just as it was getting dusk, a man cane running and shouting a body in the river. Several ran and so did I. I saw it floating, hit the bridge and went round and round and then went rushing down the river. It was quite a time before they caught it and brought it to the side. I heard one man say “it’s a woman” but when they turned it over they could see it was a scarecrow from one of the fields higher up the river. What a sell, they thought they were going to be hero's. They didn’t live that one down for many a day. 

Later, after being empty for years, the biggest house was sold to a very wealthy family named Brocklebank, and what a difference it made to our village. A lot of ground went with the estate and what didn’t he bought if he could, till he nearly owned the village. Our beloved hills and fields around he claimed, and fenced them in so no more were we allowed in. After a time, he planted all trees. He tried to block the footpath through the hills but the people of the village fought for that and won. He said people would frighten his birds if they used the path. All he worried about was hisshoot, that was more to him than people. Dennis, my nephew, took me for a ride to see the hills in 1964 you could hardly see them for trees and bushes. It was just a jungle. 

Bartlow      Hills

[This      image is from a commercial postcard produced as part of a “Fair View”      series by E.W.Morley of Linton.  I don’t know when the photograph was      taken but it appears to show a young plantation in the foreground].

The Brocklebanks had lots of servants inside and out. Butler, footman, 2 coachmen and a small page boy, who wore a uniform and a little round pill box hat. He went twice a day by our school to the post and woe betide him if we were out at play. We had sticky buds growing in the school grounds and we used to throw them to try to knock off his pill box, poor wee boy, till a complaint came to the school about us. Of course it was Mr Nobody. They used to come to Church every Sunday morning, sit in their special pew. He used to sit and bite his nails and looked bored. They had a son and daughter, older than us, away at school. Home for the holidays we saw a lot of the boy. He had a lot of pocket money and used to buy sweets from our little shop and throw them on the grass for us to scramble. They weren't wrapped like they are today, so were sometimes sticky. We didn’t mind - anything to get a sweet. The boys always got the most because they were the roughest. Mr Stutfield saw us one day and put a stop to it. Said it wasn’t nice. So he arranged, every Saturday at 2pm, for us to collect at his gate and he gave the eldest one 4d to buy sweets to share amongst us. We got a lot of sweets for 4d in those days, so it was very kind of him. He never forgot us. 

One school day our Teacher was informed that a princess was visiting the big house and us children were asked to line each side of the road, by our school, when she passed and curtsy to her. Up came the open carriage and we all had to bow. I think she was one of Queen Victoria's daughters. I don’t know what I expected to see after all that fuss. I told my mother she was only a woman. 

They used to give us a nice Christmas party in the Ballroom, a lovely tea & a huge Christmas tree. We all had a toy off it and cracker's which we had never seen before. We also had a Christmas party at Mrs Stutfields and also a summer party. We liked that. There were no day's at the sea like the Sunday school have today. All the children went to Sunday, and week day, School so no one was left out. We always had a lovely tea, had plenty of that cheap cake about 4d a lb, plain and fruit. I loved it but I wouldn’t eat it now. I had a nice boy friend at School. His name was Freddy. He often used to meet me from dinner. I never saw him after we left Bartlow until years later, in the 1930’s I should think, when Gus and I had a walk round the Hills path and into the Church yard, when he looked up I could see it was my Freddie. He was the verger. I knew him at once. You can guess we were very pleased to see and recognize each other. We had a good old gossip. He was married with two daughters. We looked in the old Church. It looked so small to me. We signed the visitors book and walked to the big house. It stood there a blackened skeleton. What a shame. There had been a big fire, while the people were abroad, and it seemed it wasn’t worth repairing, so it was left falling to ruins, and those lovely hills and fields which we used to love were like a jungle. Everything spoiled, even the little cottages where I was born he pulled down to build dog kennels. Where the old people were housed I don’t know for I could see no new ones, so now his house was burned down. If they relied on our Linton fire engine I feel sorry for them, for it was an antique laugh, it stood in the square and men had to run with it. By the time they got there it would be too late.

I was ten years old when we left Bartlow in March 1907 just before Easter, we went to live at Greenditch Farm in Linton. Dad took the manager's job and we lived in the old Farm house. We were better off there, and though Linton school was nearer we still went to Bartlow. None of us wanted to change. My eldest sister left school then, so there was still four of us to go. Mrs Stutfield didn’t want us to leave and did all she could to keep us there, because the village school was so small that it would have to close unless the numbers were kept up. It was a long way but in the summer, or the good weather, we went across the fields, which cut a good corner off. In bad weather, when we had to go by road, it was a good five miles. We used to get a lift sometimes. I know Mrs Stutfield bought us new winter coats and boots so we should keep going and, if it rained, we called in for her coachmans cape - a big white mac. I used to have it on, one each side with faces looking out of the armholes. They used to call me the girl with the six legs. 

(Violet’s story continues from here with life on the farm in Linton)

 (*) The Rosemary that Violet is referring to in the text above the second photograph is my wife, a G.P. working in Co. Durham