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(linp) School House
School House, Linstead Parva, was not used by the school, but was a cottage situated near the school. The following notes were taken by Tim Edwards from an audio tape of an interview with Baden Chapman, who was born in School House. The tape was made as part of a local history project
May 1st, 1989
BC born June/July 1900 in south east facing bedroom of the School House. Attended school in the nearby school, a building facing the SF, end of the present house, i.e. where the wooden garage is now. BC was delivered by a Midwife called Cunningfield, the (great?) grandmother of a farmer BC met in Aylesbury whilst on a visit there at a time when he was in business as a farmer.
BC was in the Linstead church choir: the church then had a belfry and bells. Since then the village has changed greatly, and one would scarcely recognise it now. The river used to run across and back again over the Halesworth road. He remembered some people floating from Chediston along the river in a large half barrel towards the present garage.
A school photograph (at present - i.e in 1989 - with the woman owner of the Grovewood Stud) had been taken without BC who had gone forward under the photographer's cloak to see "the birdie". None of the pupils then knew about or understood anything about photography.
The School House used to have a very unusual variety of plants. Some could have come from Japan. BC recalled a large'cabbage like' plant at Holcombe Hall. But now various sprays had greatly reduced the numbers of wild plants, though he still had some rare ones in his own garden.
Mrs BC died after a long illness early in April 1959. His father had been a local blacksmith.
May 16, 1989
A large boulder on the southern edge of the School House property had been called by BC and his family "the plum pudding stone". It had never been moved. There was another like it in Harleston. (This stone seems to be a glacial erratic, and apparently there are many in the area - TBE). BC said that 'hands' or 'claws' in stone were to be found in fields locally, as well as amber.
BC had started school at the age of three, and stayed on until he was thirteen. The school photograph had been taken in 1907 or 1908. His teacher was from Lowestoft. There had been three steps up to the school, so the children called it the High school.
The coal shed (demolished by Derek Keable in 1991 and replaced by a building of identical dimensions on the same site) had once been a cobbler's shop, and the end nearer to the main house was a wash house. The children had had a weekly wash. The shoemaker, who was very tall, had had the floor dug down lower to protect him from hitting his head on the rafters.
There were three boys and three girls in BC's family. His father was a blacksmith, and made harrows and hoes as well as shoeing horses. BC had kept one of his father's 'day books' in which was mentioned that he had charged 3/6d for shoeing a farm horse all round with new shoes, and 1/9d to change the shoes round. (
the following photograph shows BC's father, John, at the Linstead smithy with BC's sister Esther and his brother Frank; Frank was killed in the First World War
In 1911 there had been a bad drought. There had been one well in Bridge Farm and another in a nearby farm. It was so dry that the iron 'tyres' had fallen off cart wheels. The harvest had only been saved by borrowing wheels (carts?).
The former Greyhound pub had once been part of the barracks on the right on the road to Harleston. BC's father was born in Dennington; his mother in Monks Soham. His father used to have a forge near the pub. At that time apples cost 6d a stone, and honey 6d a pound. He and other boys used to help with the harvest, and also picked stones off the fields for a few pence per bushel. He told a story of having once as a boy been sent to fetch a gallon (!) of whisky for someone.
(The above notes were taken during conversation with BC. Below is a verbatim transcription of an extended conversation I had with BC and which I recorded on a small tape recorder - TBE.)
The pathway up to the front door (of the School House -TBE) was a box fence each side, boxwood, and if you turn to the left it finished there near that enormous old cork tree, we used to call it. That isn't the proper name: the gigantic tree that's still there, and in the square in front of your window, looking towards the school, was another very tall pine tree. That's gone now, I understand, and then of course, you know the row of shedding that stands longways from the house to the school, like that -are they still there? well, for your information, years and years gone by, the further end was shoes (..lost) and this end was the wash house and there was the chimney, a boiler - you know, a furnace, and as children we had our weekly wash. Put our clean things on and dashed across indoors and to bed! At the far end there was, as I say, the shoemaker's shop and the man who was shoemaker there was a very tall man and he was the one you find, when you go into your kitchen door, you turn to your right to go into a room. You go down, steps down - there used to be, I think, one or two steps down into the room. We were always told that, being a tall man and he hit his head on the top and so he took the earth out to deepen it, and that's what made it so much lower. And whether that's been changed in the years that I haven't known School House, I wouldn't know, but that's how it was when I was a boy. If you sat agin the plant window like this, well, the window wouldn't be up like that, it would be on the floor, very very low. We were always given to understand that that's how that came about.
I was born in the bedroom facing the school, that's where I came along. That was three boys and three girls in our family.
The Chapmans, Esther, Frank & John, BC's father
Father was the blacksmith. He had his day book. and I'd give anything to have had that - I loaned that out and never got it back. That was all the prices of things, what they were and what they are to-day. I do remember several Items and details in the book. To shoe a carthorse or a farm horse all round, new shoes, 3/Od. And to change them when they - some horses would walk more on one side of the foot than the other, so they would bring the horse to the blacksmith's and say, "Change the shoes." From the low side to the high side, you see. That would cost 1/9d. Of course, there was an awful lot to do because the farms, you see, were very small and they all had to have their tools and implements. Father made harrows and hoes and the cutting hooks for cutting the fences. He had an enormous big grindstone, but, jumping ahead to 1911, we thought we'd come to the end because of the severe drought. There was no water. There was only two wells near - one at the bottom of the hill where young Gerald Baker lives, and one at the farm near the church (only that's in Chediston) known as the Chapel Farm. There was a well there. All the other ponds and places were dried up Well, It w/is desperately serious because the dry weather had shrunk the wheels, you see - the woodwork of the wheels, and the iron hoop that surrounded them simply fell off Off the wagons. Everything had to be carried out of the harvest field by wagon. And then, after using the wagons you had your one horse tumbrils to carry the manure, or muck, back into the field. They were in exactly the Same position. The farms were at a standstill. The blacksmiths - and there was a wheelwright on the end of the blacksmith's, they said, "If you bring us the water (because you have to shrink this tyre onto the woodwork, and immediately that's on, you have to cool it, or it will burn itself loose), well if you bring us the water, we'll shoe the wheel. Nobody had got any. How the situation was saved (- the continuation of the drought) the ones who were in a muddle borrowed from those who were wise virgins and had theirs done last year. You see? The drought saved them and so that's how the harvest got brought in - by bits and pieces, and by borrowing and by cadging. The situation got so bad that a woman with children (there was a little water in the Bridge Farm well - you could hear it go down and touch the bottom (the stone) and that would bring up two or three pints) that woman was allowed a pint. You might say, "What happened to her husband?" Well, her husband was ordered to go to the Greyhound (our pub) and buy himself mild beer at 1'/zd a pint. ("Where was the Greyhound?" - TBE) Well„ when you go down (from) the School House, down on the road, you see, you go towards Harleston, you'll see a house on your right, standing by itself - there used to be a row of houses there, called the Barracks. A row that way, and three went up that way, like a T, when 1 was a boy. And the Greyhound was further on, standing on the right hand side - in the, well, the yard of the pub, look, where you'd see where horses and carts would go in and be tied up - time you went in and had a little refreshment. Of course, I knew the house well because that was always in the same family all my life - the Adams family. Yes. ("How long had your father been in the School House?" - TBE) Well, he was - I've got his apprenticeship papers. He was bred and born in a village this way called Dennington', and my mother was in a village, one or two villages away, called Monks Soham z. Well, when father passed out a fully fledged blacksmith he took on a blacksmith's shop that had a public house attached to it. Well, mother, she didn't like that. She didn't like the public house open all day, rough, dealing men, bad manners - and father, he had to put out a watch to find there was somewhere more like what she wanted. Eventually they bought up Linstead Parva. You see, there was the house, hut I used to say, that was punishment, and he said, "That was punishment", he said, "That was punishment! I had two rents to pay, the blacksmith's shop and the house, and," he said. "some weeks I could work from 6 in the morning till 6 or 7 at night for less than 15/-." You couldn't get the money, you know. That was awful, but mother, she was wonderful. They had a big orchard. We had fruit and she used to gather the fruit properly, and at the end nearest the next door neighbour, Mrs Pritchard, there was a shed known as the apple house, and apples were stored there and mother would carry them on her arms to Halesworth - the better quality apples 6d a stone, to help, you see, maintain her livelihood. She also was clever: we had a quantity of bees and we had the honey. Straight up from the back door up to the orchard, on the left, there was a proper bee house, a little house with a sloping roof, and in front, facing south there was, oh, quite a run of them. And this honey, after that was processed, you see, and put in jars - to Halesworth, 6d a pound. Well, you see, but that was a struggle, and then as we grew older, we'd go in the fields picking stones. Our older sister was in charge of the rest of us and the farms around, one where Gerald Baker lived, and the other farm, the Vicarage Farm - as you go up to the Greyhound there's a long drive up, there was, our vicarage then was on the right fork, and the vicarage farm on the left fork, and on that lane we used to pick stones. When I look back and think how much money we got, a few pence for twelve bushels of stones, and.... in the middle of the fields and the sides for a few pennies! Well, that was life, and then the harvest time, of course, us boys were kept fully busy with the gangs of men mowing the com - fetching them this and fetching them that; and then, when they were carrying the corn, leading the horses. That's how - not only we were situated like that, hut farther up the yard, further from the back door, there was a sty there, and father kept a pig, and she would have some young ones, and then he would fatten one and have one killed, for the counter, you see, and mother would salt it in brine, in big quart pots, and that was... on the Thursday night before the baking day she would fasten her machine to the table and make her own sausages. There was other things: there was the fat from the pig, and it was usual, when
'On A1120, between Badingham & Saxted Green, 6-7m WSW of Peasenhall 22m NW of Earl Soham, on Al 120
you killed a pig, you'd share that
People would say they'd have such and such a part, and then when they killed a pig, you had that back, you see. The whole village worked on one principle, and the same applied to mother brewing. When father got very rich he owned an old pony and cart. He would drive to Halesworth and collect shop things for the village.
Well, that was always somebody needed a bushel of malt, a pound of hops and a bag of burnt barley from the maltsters. The burnt barley was to give it colour. It was barley in the process of making malt. It was spread out and warmed and dried and there'd be some near the sides would get burnt a bit. That wasn't burnt up entirely, that was discoloured and that's what made the beer have a nice colour. and so all it was - a bushel of malt, so many pounds of hops and some burnt barley for Mrs So and So and Mrs so and So, and she wanted this and she wanted that and she'd want the other, and you wasn't to get mixed up! We weren't very (sic) but we had a smart gentleman came into the village from
London. He was a retired Metropolitan Police superintendent. His name was Charles Fisher and he lived up past the Greyhound - actually his house was in Chediston (?). Now, Chediston is down there, but you have to go through Linstead to get to the west end of it. This gentleman. he approached my father periodically. He said, "When will you be going to Halesworth with a horse and cart next?" Now, now father being a blacksmith, he often had material come from big shops to be collected from the railway goods yard, and he said, "As a matter of fact, Mr Fisher, he's going this afternoon if all's well." And he said to me, "Good, good. Boy," he said, "I want you to do something for me." I said, "Yes, sir, what would that be?" He said, "I want you to get me a gallon of whisky." And he put his hand in his pocket and gave me a sovereign. Well, that frightened me nearly out of my wits! To be in possession of a sovereign! And, of course, pockets all rags. I put it in my handkerchief and tied it up and kept feeling for it every second! But I got to Halesworth with it and this shop was exactly opposite Lloyds Bank when you go into what's known as the Angel car park on the right corner. On the right side was this - his name was Barker - this Stanford, Broom and Stanford, auctioneers. hut this man was a brother of the original Stanford, his name was Barker Stanford. I take my horse and cart (as an old man of about ten or eleven!), fastened it up in the yard. made sure I'd got this pound, and went in the shop. Mr Stanford was behind the counter. I said, "I'm from Mr Fisher." (He'd been there quite a bit.) "Oh, oh," and he held his hand out and took the pound into his hand. He knew the general order, you see. And to me he delivered one gallon of the best Scotch whisky in a little oak tub with lovely brass hoops round and a brass tap. And that was 16/-. That left 2/- (sic), you see, either change, or he'd written in the note, he'd want either change or a quart or a pint of gin to use up the pound. And that's what I had for a pound - a gallon of whisky and a quarter of gin. That's what you brought home, you see, such things as that, in those days.
TBE: "Was there a pond there?" (i.e. in the land of the School House) "Yes, I was coming to that. Well, from the front gate that led up to the door, you went up the road to the school and there was a big gate - a farm field gate -led up onto father's property at the end where I said there was a shoemaker's shop. You could drive a horse and cart up there and the pond was edging between there and that block of land where I tell you was in front of the house where the pine tree's gone. The pond was there; that's what we drank out of - well, there was nothing else! That's what we drank out of All my life I had to go down the steps and get water there - well, while we were there. And of course, that went dry the dry year. We had some lovely goldfish in there, too. It was a nice round pond. Father used to keep the sides nicely mown with the scythe and there was fish there, and toads and newts galore, and all what have you, but mother used to say, "Wave the pail once or twice before you dive in to get the water to drink", and of course, you might get away with a few dozen tadpoles, but you didn't take notice of that - they didn't kill you! That's how I was brought up. That's where the pond was. The square of the school, you see, started from the chestnut tree, went up and then came across and down here beside that gate. I think in this photo' you'll see something that looks like a telegraph pole (the fir tree - TBE). This is the corner of the playground and these palings start going up here like this and they to the back of the boys' toilets here on this side of the school and then. This is the faded photo of the school, with Linstead School written on it at the bottom. down to the chestnut tree. A square enclosing a square. I know it so well because many, many a time I have tried to climb that tree, only to get so far and to slide down on my bottom! I couldn't get a grip! ....If you've got a lady (to TBE). won't she be interested too? You tell her that's why I know so much - because I went to such a'high' school. I'll tell you this, headmaster, honestly and truthfully, we had that little school here and I marked the attendance board for years and years and years. Sometimes there was fifteen„ sixteen, seventeen children - they came from far away in the fields, oh some of them had to walk an endless way, if it was bad weather, an endless way to the school, but we were always privileged for years and years to have one of the best schoolmistresses you could possibly produce. You didn't leave off that subject until you'd got it! We always, as a church school, started off with a hymn and a prayer and most of the children took their meal there, and we always sang grace before lunch, you see, and gave thanks afterwards. That was the bringing up - I can't think of her name, but I will do. And the vicar, he very often used to come up to the school, you know, and of course he was school manager (my father was a school manager, too) and look us over, and you'd have to, perhaps, recite a bit of poetry or something like that for the vicar's ear. I remember, "It was the schooner Hesperus that sailed the wintry sea; / The skipper had taken his only daughter to bear him company." Yes. and all those things and others. There was one thing attached to the school that I always wished I had - and could have had -and that was a bird. On the window that faced the School House, it was in a cage, that was a bird (so reputation had it) that was caught in the comfields in the locality, and never before or since have I heard, but I've heard say there are still t few in isolated parts of Norfolk. That was known as a corncrake. Oh, that was a beautiful bird - long legs. They weren't webbed feet, and a very long beak, and light grey in colour. And there was one there, and it was in a beautiful cage and I'd have loved to have had that. And on the teacher's desk was solid oak, and well, that was like a lump of real steel. Bulbous legs. Oh, the thick table top! Giant of a thing! Oh dear oh me! That was worth a mint of money, and there was a shed there at the right hand side of the porch where us children stood there, where each harvest time the coal man from Halesworth would put in a ton of coal for the winter. The girls' toilets were on the left and the boys' were on the right. It must be very different for you these days to act as a school teacher, because you're so tied down. She wasn't rough or unduly harsh, but when she said something, she meant something, and you got to know that! An order was an order! YOU did what you were told. She was one of the best. I think lots of my friends who went to school with me in the latter years, we owed a lot to her. She was very badly paid -£ 1 a month. She was excellent, Miss... I'm glad I mentioned about that erratic. That's not a bit of rubbish. I can tell you there are three other pieces in the locality and the texture of the stones is exactly the same. The farm where this is on the east end of the village, called Rockstone - that's known as a bit of rock. (?) Discarded, no one talk about, no one look at it, no one want to know, or where it come from, and don't care threepence about it, but that's history! Where would you go to find anything as old as that? You could go into a thousand homes and you wouldn't find anything as old and as sound as that.
There's lots to know about the School House to say yet, if you want to know. I'll try to help you. Oh! the lovely roses mother did have! Just inside the gate - you'd go up by the box fence, there's what they call the Seven Sisters roses - seven blossoms on one -stalk, and the smell -oh! Lavender and stocks. On the left hand side near, not too near that big tree, was something else very interesting and that used to come up early in the spring and burst through the ground like a pointed cabbage, the heart of a cabbage. And that would grow and grow, and as it grew it would spreed (Sic) out and these leaves that formed the heart of the cabbage, they would open as time went on and they were the beautifullest as you ever saw anything! And I heard my parents say. the year I was born that thing blossomed - had a long stalk up the middle; it blossomed. But never no more! And I'll tell you something: I had an older sister, she married again (she lost her first husband in the first World War), and she went up into Norfolk. The parish used to have all the Women's Institute at the house and they took them to Holcombe Hall where Dick Joyce (?) had his old things and which was a very large place. She went there and they were walking through the gardens and lo and behold!, she told me, there was the plant what we had at home! "Well," she said, "I went off the deep end proper at it," she said, "I got hold of the gardener, the head gardener, and he said, "I'm very sorry, but I can't tell you anything, but it was there when I came. But," he said, "the old boy that had been a gardener here all his life told me once that he'd heard that someone that had owned the Hall had been an ambassador in Japan. We've always come to the conclusion that that was brought home from Japan." That's as near as I can get to what it was. It come out like a giant cabbage, pointed - the most vivid green as you ever saw, and the true name of it, what it was, truthfully I do not know! I've never seen anything like it in my life. But she (the sister - TBE), when she saw it, she'd never seen anything else (like it), and she wanted to do something about it, and that's what she came home with.
On the way back to the Halesworth sale, when they got to those huge dips of water, at the bottom, where Gerald Baker lived, that was a huge dip down there. That's all filled up now, a giant dip, and long, and the things used to have to swim through. The stockman would go up to the farms and borrow a horse, get on the back of the horse and then whip the beasts through. The footbridges over the fords were on huge stilts, you see, and the bridge over was yards away from the water when the water was low. Early spring, there was us boys with jam jars catching eels, "Here come one! Here come one!" And you hold your jar and you dashed to where he was coming to catch him!"
Linstead smithy: date unknown
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