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The Oral History & Archaeological Projects Group would like to record their appreciation of the great help provided by two parishioners who have recently died.

Gabriel Hogg gave us great assistance with a sequence in our first video, in which we recorded ancient traditions and customs of Eardisland. One entailed a re-enactment of the Fiddler of Eardisland, (played by the late Colin Cole), who played his fiddle at a dance in Pembridge, left his gloves behind and when he returned found the village had disappeared in a flood. Gabriel helped to arrange (and joined in) the dance sequence in which young children danced as Colin played his fiddle. She subsequently helped with an exhibition in the Church, of items which recorded the publications of local village authors. We were delighted to be able to display several of her own books.

Wendy Corke took great interest in our archaeological work and was able to provide early light on the three manors of Eardisland when we started to publish details of our findings in Newsletters and articles in the parish magazine. She gave a wonderful talk in the village hall to our group (and the wider public) on this topic which clarified many issues of which we had been unaware. She was a great help in making us alert to the potential pitfalls of documentary research and of the errors which appeared in other publications. Thereafter, her informed historian's eye always made us more careful in our statements and interpretations of historical events or information we had uncovered.

Both Gabriel and Wendy were exceptionally warm hearted and generous in the time they gave to us and were always most gracious in the help they provided. They are both greatly missed by our group and the wider community.

Paul Selfe

The Eardisland AA Box

The AA Box originally stood at Legions Cross, where the road through the village meets the A44. It is believed to date from the 1920s and we think it is unique. The AA archivist (Basingstoke) said he thought it may be the only box of its kind left in the UK. He was not aware of any others. But we are open to correction should another be found. It was renovated in 1999-2000 and placed in the car park. It was opened by the AA archivist of Basingstoke who advised on the matter. (See photograph 2)

The idea for renovation arose from the fact that a large some of money was raised by the Eardisland Millennium Fund to renovate the 18thc Dovecote. Some monies were unused and following discussions with the Oral History Group it was thought useful to renovate the box since it was a significant part of the heritage of the village over the past 80 years. This had been found in the garden of the son of the AA man for the area Mr Harry Gittoes. It seems that he had realised that all the boxes were being scrapped in the 1950s and arranged to have it put in his garden before it could be officially demolished. His son John (a member of our Oral History Group) pointed the box out to us whilst we were researching our book (Eardisland: an oral history 1995. £5.99) It was then in a dilapidated state. (See photograph 1)

The renovation work was carried out by a local craftsmen. John was even able to provide tins of the original black and yellow paint! It is looked after by the owner, his wife and son David, who tend the garden around it. As a matter of interest some of these details appear in our video: Hidden Eardisland: uncovering local heritage. (£10 including booklet)
The box has become one of the most popular items in the village and attracts a great deal of interest from visitors. There is a small display of related items in the Dovecote opposite (some of which were donated by the AA in recognition of the importance of the discovery of the box.)

The AA box in dilapidated state when re-discovered in the garden where it had been left for 40 years. John Gittoes emerging.
The renovated AA box at the opening ceremony in 2000. John and David Gittoes seen being interviewed.


We are grateful to Mr A.B.Demaus for the following information relating to the cars shown in the photographs.

Above left: Car 1 - 1904 Renault

Above right: Car 2 - 1912 AC Sociable

Left: Car 3 - 1904 Belgium Metalurguique

The car marked 1is a brand new Renault (1904) and is shown outside Burton Court.
The car marked 2an odd three wheeler is an A.C.Sociable (1912). They were made between 1911-1914 by Autocarriers of Thames Ditton (Surrey). They sold for less than £100. One or two were adapted for racing at Brooklands and elsewhere. They went on to make sports cars before and after the second war..
The car marked 3 is a Belgium Metalurguique; the photo was taken in about 1904. It shows Colonel Clowes with his son outside Burton Court, with the chauffeur, Mr Watters.

Mr Demaus is the author of many books on the history of cars and cycles; he is also a nautical historian.
His latest book is entitled Motoring arounbf Hereford, Worcester and the Welsh marches (available from Tempus Publishing, Stroud, Glourcester. GL5 2QG


Publications from Eardisland Oral History Group

Eardisland: an oral history £5.99
Eardisland: Year Book £1.50
Enchanted Eardisland (video 30mins) £5.50
Hidden Eardisland: uncovering local heritage (video: 30mins) £5.50
The handbook to accompany the video £3. 00

E-mail via the contacts page to order.

Oral History News

Eardisland Oral History and Archaeological Projects Group Exhibition to celebrate the jubilee
A jubilee celebration exhibition is being held in St Mary's Church from February until November 2002. This will include a display to illustrate national events during the period of the Queen's fifty years on the throne, organised by the village Millennium Committee.

In addition, the Oral History and Archaeological Projects Group have also mounted an exhibition to commemorate some of the significant events that have occurred in the parish between 1952 and 2002. The work of this group has been made possible by a substantial grant from the Local Heritage Initiative. This is a national grant scheme administered by the Countryside Agency and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Nationwide Building Society. The LHI provides financial support for the protection and enhancement of local heritage for the benefit of the community for appropriate projects. This has enabled members of the groups to complete some unusual and important community based projects, which would have been impossible without this support.

In the course of their work, which began in 1993, the Oral History Group has acquired a large archive of photographs and a selection has been made from these to illustrate many interesting and memorable events. Among the themes covered are the floods in almost every decade, sporting, cultural and social celebrations, from the Coronation to the Queen's Silver jubilee. There are also photographs of a number of village celebrities, marking unusual achievements.

Also included are items of memorabilia as well as a large number of examples of books and poems written by parishioners, and a range of reports, pamphlets and other documents relating to village history. Some of these have been written by local historians others were uncovered in the course of research.

The work of the Archaeological Projects Group, which was established in 1999, is also displayed, together with examples of artefacts uncovered. Tim Hoverd of Herefordshire Archaeology supervises this work. The case study of Burton Court, which is still in progress has produced over 1500 examples of sherds of pottery which have been identified by experts as being no later than the 12th century. These were made in Worcester, Malvern and the Cotswolds suggesting important trade routes with these places were in use after the Conquest. A major find has been a Norman gaming counter, thought to be the first discovered in Herefordshire. Examples of these are also on display in the Dovecote together with photographic illustrations.

In addition to the exhibitions, for example, the two groups have undertaken and completed several other projects. Their professionally produced history video will soon be available, which aims to encourage an interest in local history in junior school children. A copy will be provided to each school in Herefordshire. They have also organised the production of a special artistic Parish Map, which will be presented to all children in the parish in June. All the churchyard memorials were recorded earlier in the year and further research is ongoing. Many experts in the field of local history and archaeology have contributed to the information being collected and a series of public talks and discussions in the village hall were well attended as was the computer course organised by the history group for members of the parish.

More information about the Local Heritage Initiative can be found at www.lhi.org.uk

The exhibition in the Church is open to the public from Wednesday 6th February and the Dovecote is also open daily.

Calling all authors/ or those who have been written about
We have a number of authors in the village and we would like to make a display of books in the exhibition, if we can obtain suitable cabinets. If you have written anything that has been published (or have connections with some one who has) and have a copy that we could display under secure conditions, please inform us. It would be nice to have a very full view of all the books, pamphlets or articles which local people have written or which figure local people

We would like to include any poems which have been written about Eardisland (either published ones or those written by local people for their own interest) and it would be important to have a copy of these also.

If anyone has any suggestions about how the exhibition of local issues could be made more interesting (3D?) please let us know.

Oral History Group


Nancy Price. An Appreciation

Nancy Price died earlier this year (2001). She was born in the Riverside Stores just after the first war. The shop, on the riverbank, was the second in the village and was owned by her father, "Jo Harvey", who was church organist and founder of the "cocoa concerts" to raise money for daily cups of cocoa in the school. She gave interviews to us in 1993.

As a youngster I remember that the shop used to flood then. In 1947 that it flooded to within two steps of the top of the stairs. We were in the house for 5 days, couldn't get down.

I went to school in the local school and was taught by Tom Wood and Mrs Davies. (who was especially kind and well loved). There were two fires in the big room and one in the small (for the infants). I remember when Mr Woods told us that the number of pupils in the school topped 100. He was delighted. That was when I was about 12. Mrs Woods was just finishing teaching when I started; she had been ill (1923; she died shortly afterwards). We had to embroider the pillow cases for Burton Court, always roses. I remember that well. It is amazing to think that there were less than 20 when it closed in 1979.

I remember Winnie Downing coming to school on a pony. She'd leave it in Lawson Meadow and ride it home at the end of the day. Most children walked two or three miles to school. But there was not much traffic about so it was quite safe. My dad got up the cocoa concerts because some children didn't have much to eat from the time they arrived in school to the time they went home. Anyone could take part and there was a small charge to watch.

I was in the shop until the war came, then I went to Rotherwas to the munitions factory. I was married and then moved to Kent. During the war there were a lot of Polish airmen here. You could see the gliders at all times of day and night. Then the Americans came though and knocked half the bridge down! Life was wonderful before the war; we had brownies and girl guides; we had school and choir outings; I recall barrow loads of eels going round the village. Anyone who wanted them could have some. We had dances in the school and whist drives. I have happy memories of spending hours and hours by the river as a youngster. There was no fear of being out and about and no dangers. Of course there were no TVs in those days, and I do remember hearing about the jubilee of George V on a radio in the school. It was amazing, hearing it straight from London.

My grandfather drove the first car in the village. He collected it from Friars in Leominster. He worked for the people at Glan Arrow. He used to be the carter collecting and delivering from Kingsland station by horse and cart. On a Friday he'd take the trap out and take 6 people to Leominster at sixpence a time. I used the train quite a lot; eventually bus services started

We were always frightened of Mrs Clowes; she was very severe. She didn't like anyone picking her chestnuts. We used to creep into her garden on a Sunday afternoon very quietly and fled for our lives if we got a pocketful. But we used the Burton Court Cricket Meadow. They had tennis courts there. The cricket pavilion was under the lime tree; there was a good cricket team; and the tennis courts and bowling green were close by. We played tennis one night and bowls the next.

Times have changed; and not always for the better.

Nancy was extremely helpful to the Oral History Group soon after it was set up, meeting with us on several occasions and making many helpful suggestions as to whom we should interview. Her information took us back to life in the village in the 1920s and 30s and gave us many leads for our later research. She is greatly missed.

Oral History Group


Miss Florrie Jenkins died in 2001 aged 100. She gave an interview to the Oral History Group in March 1994. She lived in a bungalow at the end of the village close to the A44 with very few amenities. She left to live with relatives in Cheltenham in 1996 and the house was rebuilt.

"I came to Eardisland when I was three years old; my aunt and uncle, Mr and Mrs Prothero, kept The Swan. I grew up there after the death of my parents. I went to school here. I had Tommy Wood as my teacher all my school days. I always found him and his wife, who used to come in and teach in the mornings, very nice people. I was born the same year that they arrived, 1901. I didn't dislike them at all. We did all the usual subjects. His wife came in and took one lesson in the morning on hygiene; she also did needlework and that sort of thing. We did painting and drawing. I wasn't very good at them. The school was well attended in my day I certainly remember 50 to 80 children there. I have a silver medal which I won from the school. It was for 5 years perfect attendance between 1907-1912. That was in Mr Wood's day. Then we had a classroom infant teacher who lived in Church Row, Miss Cadmore. She was very nice and I had happy days in her classroom. Then we had another nice teacher who came, Mrs Davies. Her husband ran the post office, in the house opposite the Cross Inn in Church Lane. I never missed a day from school between 1907 and 1912. The medal that l got was accompanied by a letter from Sir James Rankin. The medal was in a presentation box. The medal says "This medal is presented by Sir James Rankin for five years' perfect attendance at school. Herefordshire County Council." My aunt and uncle didn't think much of it. They said "Why couldn't you have given her something more useful?" The letter is dated 20th December 1912 and says:

My dear Miss Jenkins, I have much pleasure in sending you this medal as a small reward for having made 5 years unbroken attendance at Eardisland School. I sincerely hope that this attention to regularity will be useful-to you in after-life and that you have been forming a character for regularity which will prove of great assistance to you. Wishing you a happy Christmas. Yours truly, James Rankin.

I've kept it all these years. It was all due to aunt and uncle really. It's always been with me ever since. I never think anything about it. It's been kept carefully all this time, so it's not been knocked about. I hope I've been of help. I don't want to move away. I love the village.

After I left school I went into service with a private family and worked in the nursery. That was in Bredenbury Hall. They had a nanny and myself to assist in the nursery. I went back this last summer (1993). It's a school now. I was doing my training, so I didn't stay too long, perhaps twelve months or two years. I was training to be a personal maid to a private family.

After that I think I went up to London. I wanted to stretch my wings. With that kind of position it's important to get in with very nice gentry. I didn't want to come to work at flurton Court. It was too near home. My aunt and uncle were very strict. I have a framed photo of my uncle when he was the proprietor of The Swan. He was a very nice man; so gentle and very, very smart. I used to feel very proud when I was with him. He owned 14 acres here years ago and my uncle had the bungalow built where I came to live. I used to be very proud of him.

I used to spend my Sundays at church, all day. We started with Sunday School at 10.00 o'clock; then we used to have about an hour of that. (In fact I worked through to become a Sunday School Teacher). Then we went along the Church Walk, from Sunday School, which was in the school, for the service at 11.00 o'clock. Then we had a children's service at 3.00 o'clock and a service at half past six. So all my day on a Sunday was taken up at church! The churches were quite full in those days. I graduated to the choir. We had to blow the organ ourselves, with bellows! The vicar, I recall was Rev Aldridge chiefly, but there were also Rev Birley and later Rev Rock. Rev Aldridge seemed to be here during my girlhood, as I was growing up. They were very much part of the village and well respected.
We were lucky to have Mr Harvey who used to own the shop by the river, to train all the young boys and girls in wonderful concerts. They were wonderful musical events. We would all perform. I'll show you something he made for one concert. You'll laugh when you see it. It's an old giant wooden razor, which he had made for a performance involving an action song called "Dainty Lady Barbers" and us girls were the barbers and we had to shave the boys and we really did shave them! We lathered their faces and used these wooden giant razors. Jim Taylor's father made it for me. It's amazing isn't it, considering the years it's been about. My aunt had always had it put away in a drawer but since I've lived alone I have looked after it... .it's wonderfully made. But fancy trying to shave anyone with that! We were only about 8. That would be in about 1909. Mr Harvey was wonderful.

We also had Poirrots and Black and White Minstrels, all organised by him. He was an organist and he played in the church. He gave music lessons. I had lessons with him. He taught the piano and I learnt to play. The concerts were put on once a year. We had lovely action songs. I remember we opened one year with a pretty song, called .."Flowers". We each had a corsage of flowers, a bouquet in each hand, and we did actions as we sang. Then at the end of the song we presented the front row of the audience with flowers, they were the important people, of course, the Clowes, Miss Cadmore and others. Mr Harvey came down to the school for rehearsals. The Black and White Minstrels, who were the men from the village. I've kept the razor because my aunt taught me to take care of things.

How the village has changed. We have a post office, but no grocery shops now, it's a pity. I think there was a butcher's shop in my uncle's day, not in mine. We had the Clowes at Burton Court and they did a lot for the village sport, especially the cricket. They sent the teas down and I used to help a friend of mine, Mrs Edie Smith, serve them. We used to lay it out in the cricket pavilion; they had a kind of 'courtyard' area in front of it where they would eat in good weather, but inside if it inclined to be wet or stormy. I always used to go down to see Mrs Edie Smith when I came home: she and I used to do the teas. A lot of the players had a close connection with Burton Court.

When I left the village I travelled a lot. I was out in South Africa for a time, about 6 months, because I was with a private family and I used to travel with them. I only worked for families with one daughter, two daughters made too much friction.

The Clowes were very good to all us children. They used to put on wonderful parties, especially at Christmas time. They gave a gorgeous Christmas tree, with wonderful gifts on. Mrs Clowes was a nice lady in her way. She was very kind to me and was very good to my uncle. The Colonel always used to like my uncle to carry his gun when they had a big shoot at the Court. She used to ride around on her huge black horse.

Many people disliked her because she was stern, very much the lady of the manor. I remember her son Peter, who was killed. I think he mixed with the children of the village, as a young lad, as far as I remember. But not as he grew older.

He'd generally be with the Colonel, his father, and they were often walking about the village. He used to take part in the cricket matches played on the old cricket meadow.

There was also tennis at Burton Court. It was mainly the wealthier families who used to come over to play; they'd come in their pony and traps from all around. It's sad when you think it's all gone.

Unfortunately, I lost my mother at the age of 15 months and my father died when I was 3. That's why I grew up with my uncle and aunt. After we left The Swan, we went to Lower House, down at Streamford. Wasn't there much because I was growing up and I wanted to get away and meet people and I especially wanted to travel.

I was looking out for a nice private family to work for and found one with just one daughter. I did a terrific lot of needlework. I used to go round the shops in the afternoon, that was my privilege. I'd look out for any design I'd like to copy for my young ladies. One family I worked for was Wyndham- Smith in Aramston. They lived in a gorgeous house. That was my first job as a personal maid. I started at Bredenbury with the younger children. But I graduated on, I made up my mind that I wanted to be a personal maid before travelling. So that was my one aim.

The two shops we had in the village when I was growing up in the 1 920s were marvellous. You could get everything you wanted. Groceries, household things, everything anyone could need. Harvey's (by the river) was the bigger of the two.

I always took my bicycle wherever I went. I usually travelled longer distances by train; we'd walk or cycle to Kingsland station. We went to dances a lot. I used to like dancing. There were dances all round, there were some wonderful dances at Brockhampton. The Fosters lived in a big residence then and they had a hall built and there were some wonderful dances there. We visited all the local places. The music was provided by piano as a rule. We'd get a lot of people coming from all around. We used to go from Kings Caple where the Wyndham-Smiths lived and cycle over to Brockhampton. There was a good company of people to go with.

We ladies didn't use the Reading Room (the old Grammar School) in the village much. It was mainly the men who used it. I think The Mothers' Union may have used it for some meetings. The downstairs part was more for the women to meet in, Women's Institute, Mothers Union and so on. When my uncle first married he lived in Pembridge and he did a post round. He brought himself a horse-drawn mail cart. He bought two horses and worked for the post office in Pembridge. This was before he took The Swan.

When he was delivering the post, he provided his own transport; he needed two horses so he wouldn't use the same one week in and week out. He had some land where he lived so he could keep the horses. There was a little wooden hut down here in a field for the postmen. They would use it to cook a meal and rest during their round.

We had 14 acres here when I was growing up. I used to come down to meet my uncle. He was such a smart man. I used to be proud to walk beside him. His parents were farmers they came from Eyton or Eye, I'm not sure which. He was a wonderful man. I loved him dearly. He was wonderful with children.

The Swan used to do very well. I was always kept in the background. I couldn't enter the public bar. I had to use a private entrance, which led through a passage into the back living section. There was a room called the Tap Room where the majority of customers used to go to drink.

I enjoyed.school. A lot of children travelled a long way to get to the school in those days. There were children in all the houses in Burton Lane. Many of these had connections with Burton Court. In the middle house the carpenter lived, his name was Davies. In the first cottage, coming round from the village was the butler. The top red brick house was where Edie Smith lived. The butler's cottage was in a little drive to the right (where Mr and Mrs Hanson live now).

Whenever there was a shoot at Burton Court, the Colonel made a big thing of it. The Colonel was a real gentleman. He was very kind to my uncle. They were very smart people. You could say when you saw them, they were the gentry from the mansion. Mrs Clowes rode on horseback a lot. They laid on parties for us, sometimes in the school and sometimes in Burton Court."

Florrie examined the names of residents in a Kelly's Directory of 1895 and commented on some of the names:

"The Blackniores lived by the river in the big white house. The Artindales were in Glanarrow. They were well known in the village. It used to be a busy place. The blacksmith was Morris who lived opposite The Swan. George Parry, the assistant overseer, lived at Lower House, where we used to live after we left The Swan. He was a very smart man; he was very religious. Charles Russell lived in Pembridge, I think, but there was a Miss Russell who kept the Post Office in the village. They were connected. There was a George Smith, a carpenter, who lived round by the house by the Lyth Gate (that's a new gate, by the way. It wasn't always there.). I don't know if he was a butcher. George Smith was an elderly gentleman who lived in the house which is now the tea rooms. He was a carpenter. I knew his son-in-law, Harry Smith.

I have always loved the village. It's full of history. A lovely place. There is still a lot more to be discovered .