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A u s t e n H o o k e r
A LI TTLETON LAD
I N HI S OWN WORDS

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Copyright A u s t e n H o o k e r
The right of Austen Hooker to be identified as author of
this work has been asserted by him in accordance with section 77 and 78 of the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 188!
A"" rights reser#ed! $o part of this pub"ication may be reproduced, stored in a
retrie#a" system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, e"ectronic,
mechanica", photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission
of the pub"ishers!
Any person who commits any unauthori%ed act in re"ation to this pub"ication may
be "iab"e to crimina" prosecution and ci#i" c"aims for damages!
&hi"e e#ery attempt has been made to portray accurate information throughout
this book the author wishes to remind the reader of his current age and apo"ogises
for any errors which may ha#e occurred!
A C'P cata"ogue record for this tit"e is a#ai"ab"e from the (ritish )ibrary!
ISBN 978 1 84963 161 7
www! austinmacau"ey! com
*irst Pub"ished +,-1,.
Austin / 0acau"ey Pub"ishers )td!
,1 Canada 23uare
Canary &harf
)ondon
415 1)(
Printed / (ound in 6reat (ritain
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To 0y *ami"y
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Acknow"edgements
The )itt"eton )oca" History 6roup and its members!
The Hampshire 7ecord 8ffice!
The Hampshire Chronic"e!
The *riends of 9ing A"fred (uses!
The &inchester 8peratic 2ociety!
2arsen Press for a"" the he"p and ad#ice on producing the draft copy!
*red 0ontague for his ad#ice and he"p!
0rs 2hei"a Truss"er for permission to reproduce Da#id Truss"er:s
panorama of )itt"eton in the year ,---!
Photographs;
(arbara 4"smore, (rian 6i"", (rian Ho""oway, (ruce Parker, $ei" 2aint,
(ob 2o""ars, 6eorge &a"sh, 6erry &ay, Diana &i"kins!
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&hen we first mo#ed to )itt"eton ' was #ery much in#o"#ed with my own
persona" "ife and did not gi#e a "ot of thought to the #i""age and the
community ' "i#ed in! &hi"e making our new garden we wou"d #isit the "oca"
nursery to buy p"ants and if we were "ucky we might e<change a few words
with Austen Hooker and as often as not this wou"d in#o"#e someone from
)itt"eton=s past! 8ne of the first peop"e ' was introduced to in this way was
Horrie 2aint on part of whose "and, de#astated by the bui"ding of our new
bunga"ow, we were now trying to re>estab"ish a garden! Austen to"d me
Horrie trained at Hi""iers ?ust "ike his own father and that he was an e<pert on
fruit trees p"anting many in our part of the #i""age! He added that Horrie a"so
used to organise the #i""age whist dri#es which entai"ed making the tea and
being a carefu" man he wou"d not be o#ergenerous with the teabags and
wou"d subse3uent"y recei#e a regu"ar gent"e ribbing from the card p"ayers on
the strength of his tea! (ack home again ' wou"d "ook at the o"d fruit trees a""
around me together with a"" the g"ass bott"es and ?ars and o"d bits of meta" that
' wou"d dig up from time to time and now ' fancied that ' had been gi#en a
"itt"e window into the past by Austen! $ow near"y thirty years "ater and armed
with my "aptop and scanner and Austen with an o"d tape recorder he has
found at the back of a drawer we are going to make a start at recording his
memories and stories! Austen has gi#en me carte b"anche to re>write or re>
phrase anything he has dictated but as ' read through the resu"ts of the first
tape ' rea"ise that nothing needs to be changed at a"" as this is Austen=s story A
LITTLETON LAD to"d entire"y. . . "in his own words".
(arbara 4"smore
$o#ember ,--8
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I NT RODUC T I ON
As a boy and young man ' spent much of my time on the nursery with Dad
and 6randad! They wou"d te"" me stories of their past and how they came to
)itt"eton and started the market garden and nursery! At mea" times the
con#ersation wou"d often be about cricket and other #i""age acti#ities and how
the community spirit had de#e"oped!
)ife mo#es on and today:s fami"ies become more widespread and
conse3uent"y there is "ess day>to>day opportunity to te"" of fami"y history! '
hope Da#id, Andrew, 9ate and 2amantha wi"" find my memories of past
fami"y "ife interesting and that in years to come they wi"" be ab"e to add theirs
to the fami"y story!
(ecause ' ha#e "i#ed in the #i""age of )itt"eton a"" my "ife, se#era" of my
friends ha#e been trying to encourage me to write my "ife story! ' think it was
my dis"ike of anything which might keep me indoors and remote"y connected
with office work which made me de"ay making the effort to get down to
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putting pen to paper! Ta"king is one of the things ':m often reminded of by my
friends and fami"y is something that ' do a "ot of! &hen (arbara suggested
why not record your memories on tape and we wi"" write them up ' rea""y
didn:t ha#e an e<cuse to de"ay any "onger! *or the "ast 18 months ' ha#e
recorded a tape about once a month! (arbara:s sister>in>"aw, Pam 4"ms, has
then transformed my ramb"ings from the tape into print, and then passed them
on to (arbara who edited them if necessary! Connie proof read them and
together we made any a"terations before (arbara co""ated them with the
photos and poems! &ithout the patience, encouragement and ski"" of (arbara,
Pam and Connie ' wou"d not ha#e been ab"e to achie#e the pro?ect and to
them ' wou"d "ike to record my gratefu" thanks!
Austen Hooker
What strange mysterious links enchain the heart
To regions where the morn of life was spent.
@ames 6raham
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TAPE 1
The Fami l y
=The fami"y= in 11, Anne, Dad, @ohn, 0um, myse"f and "itt"e brother 7ichard in front with his bat and
ba"" A taken in Horsham where we were p"aying cricket for Craw"ey
Principle e!er" #$ %&e H##'er (n) *#(%er +(ilie"
Austen Hooker married; Connie 2mithers
Paterna" 6randparents; *red Hooker married @ane $ewe""
0aterna" 6randparents; )ewis 6oater married 4me"ine 9ate 2mith
*ather; (i"" Hooker married $orah 6oater
2ister; Anne
(rothers; @ohn and 7ichard
2ons; Da#id married @ackie Dudman
Andrew married $ikki (ourne
6randdaughters; 9ate and 2amantha
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Ta p e 2
Ear l y Memor i es
(eing "ifted on to the potting shed bench, where Dad was mi<ing his potting
compost, is among my ear"iest memories! )ike most nurserymen, he had his
own recipe! ' can remember, ' 3uite "iked the sme"" of the bonemea" which he
mi<ed in, but ' was not so fond of the sme"" of the fishmea"! He wou"d first
ha#e to ridd"e the soi", which came from a "arge heap of stacked turf which
was co""ected some year or two before! Peat was not used in those days, so he
wou"d ha#e had to co""ect "eaf mou"d! 2i"#er sand was a"so mi<ed in! The
combination of these ingredients mi<ed together wou"d be made up into his
potting compost! He might ha#e #aried it s"ight"y for different p"ants! This
was before the days of @ohn 'nnes compost!
As ' grew up, Dad and 6randad wou"d reca"" stories to my brother, @ohn,
and myse"f! Among these, was of how they first came to )itt"eton to start a
market garden and nursery! 6randad was brought up in Horndean! He "ost his
father at a young age and his mother married again! There was a "arge fami"y,
of which he was the e"dest! He "eft schoo" at the age of 1, and started work on
a "oca" farm near 7ow"ands Cast"e! 'n those days the on"y way a boy cou"d
get off the "and was to ?oin the army, which 6randad did! He ?oined the 7if"e
(rigade, which brought him to &inchester for the first time! A "arge part of
his army "ife as a regu"ar so"dier was spent in 'ndia, where most of his time
was taken up "ooking after the 6enera"=s po"o ponies!
&hen he "eft the army he married 6ranny and "i#ed at number BC Tower
2treet in &inchester, where his three chi"dren were born! 'n the "ate 18-s he
took o#er a sma"" genera" shop in &estern 7oad, &inchester! 2hort"y after
that the (oer &ar broke out and because he was a reser#ist he went back into
the Army and was sent to 2outh Africa! This "eft 6ranny "ooking after three
sma"" chi"dren as we"" as "ooking after the shop! Howe#er, this did not "ast too
"ong as 6randad de#e"oped rheumatics in 2outh Africa and was in#a"ided out
of the army! 6ranny was to"d she wou"d ha#e to "ook after him for the rest of
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his "ife, but 6randad had other ideas! (y 1-7 he had made an a"most
comp"ete reco#ery and had bui"t up his shop in &estern 7oad!
$earby in the #i""age of )itt"eton a "arge amount of "and was auctioned
for de#e"opment! 6randad decided to buy three p"ots for DCB! This was about
one acre! This he cu"ti#ated to grow produce for his shop! 'n 1-8 he had the
chance to buy another two and a ha"f acres of "and ?oining his first p"ot, that
gi#ing him a tota" of three and a ha"f acres! This he turned into a market
garden and sma""ho"ding, with a sma"" paddock on which he kept chickens,
ducks, turkeys and pigs!
0any of the p"ots were bought up and turned into sma""ho"dings and
market gardens! 2ome were bought by &inchester peop"e ?ust to turn into
gardens and somewhere to go for the weekend! They wou"d camp on the p"ot
o#ernight in the summer months! 2ome of the p"ots were gradua""y bui"t on!
6randad often said that when he first came to )itt"eton there was nothing
from Harestock to the 7unning Horse!
8ne of the #ery first bui"dings to go up in )itt"eton was 6randad=s stab"e!
This was 3uite a grand bui"ding for its time! 't was bui"t of wood, with a straw
and matchboard "ining for insu"ation! 't consisted of a garage with a pony #an
at one end, a stab"e in the midd"e and a cookhouse with a copper boi"er at the
other! 8#er the top was a "oft to keep the hay, straw and many other things!
This bui"ding was sti"" there - years "ater, when the business c"osed! &hen
he had got a"" this under way, he found he was producing more than he cou"d
se"" in his shop in &inchester, so he bought a pony and cart and started a
door>to>door round in &inchester!
Another of my ear"y memories was going on the round with 6randad!
&e wou"d run ahead and knock on the doors for him! His son, my father (i"",
often reca""ed how as a schoo"boy he wou"d wa"k out from &inchester, about
a mi"e and a ha"f, to he"p his father on the market garden! 'n the e#ening they
wou"d ha#e to wa"k back to &inchester to home and the shop in &estern
7oad! There was no such thing as pub"ic transport! They wou"d sometimes
cyc"e, but the roads were so bad, no tarmac, they spent a "ot of their time
mending punctures! 8n warm summer nights they might s"eep o#er in a shed!
8n 1
st
*ebruary 11- Dad started work for Hi""iers in the &est Hi""
$ursery on the 7omsey 7oad opposite the hospita", the site of their present
garden centre! 'n the summer it was #ery "ong hours, C!-- in the morning unti"
C!-- at night, ha"f day 2aturday, finish at 5!-- p!m! His wages were four
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shi""ings a week! (y the time he got home in the e#ening and had his mea" he
was too tired to go out with his friends! He a"ways said he started at the
bottom of the nursery business, c"eaning out the ash from the stoke ho"e
which was a #ery dirty ?ob, but he soon progressed to more responsib"e ?obs
of potting, propagating and pruning and many other things concerned with the
growing of p"ants, the "o#e of which remained with him a"" his "ife!
't was a good grounding, and in 11, he "eft and ?oined his father and
started a nursery with a market garden! The first thing they did was to bui"d a
greenhouse, which according to Dad=s records produced a wonderfu" crop of
tomatoes!
Enfortunate"y two years "ater the *irst &or"d &ar broke out and Dad "eft
to ?oin the army! He spent the first two and a ha"f years of his "ife in the army
in 'ndia, before going on to Pa"estine, where he was wounded, and then on to
*rance and fina""y the end of the war in 6ermany, ha#ing been wounded
twice! He kept a wonderfu" diary most of the time!
'n 11C 6randad was "eft D1-- by an unc"e and with this he bui"t his
house and mo#ed to )itt"eton to "i#e, ha#ing gi#en up the shop in &estern
7oad! He ca""ed the house FGuetta: because that=s where Dad and Enc"e *red
were stationed in 'ndia when the house was bui"t!
At this time other parce"s of "and in )itt"eton were being bui"t on
inc"uding F(ercote:! (ert Portsmouth, a &inchester baker, p"aced an e<>
rai"way carriage on his p"ot which became known as F(ert:s Cott:! The house
he bui"t there "ater was ca""ed (ercote gi#ing its name to (ercote C"ose!
$e<t door to (ercote was F0acrocarpa: "i#ed in by 0r and 0rs Horrie
2aint and their son 7eg! )ike Dad, Horrie had a"so trained at Hi""ers and was
an e<pert on fruit trees! He p"anted fruit trees throughout his "arge p"ot and
o#er into 2outh Dri#e, many of which remain dotted around #arious gardens
to this day!
During the war years 6randad kept the who"e "ot going, with ?ust the
he"p of 6ranny and his daughter, aunt *"o! This is a man who had been
in#a"ided out of the army! &hen Dad "eft for the war he was "i#ing in
&inchester, but in @anuary 11 he came back to "i#e in )itt"eton! The first
thing they did on the nursery was to bui"d another greenhouse! This, "ike the
first one, was 1-=<1,= and this one was di#ided in the midd"e so that one ha"f
cou"d be kept at a different temperature to the other for cucumbers at one end
and tomatoes at the other! 2ome of the o"d records Dad kept are #ery
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interesting! He wrote HAfter four and a half years in the army, I found life at
home very pleasant, but quite missed the company of many people close at
hand. However, I soon started work on the home estate and the time passed
very quickly. We had another greenhouse built which we soon filled with
cucumbers, mint and various plants. y father now had pigs, a flock of
chickens, some ducks, turkeys plus the pony and cart to look after. Any spare
time he spent growing vegetables. y mother and sister helped with the
flowers and fruit picking. It was a real family business. !uring the winter
time we killed a pig about every fortnight and sold it in the village and
around the town. We made sausages, brawn etc. We lived like fighting cocks.
We had our own vegetables and apples so were very much self"contained#.
The tota" income for 1,- was D1C!1s!8p! This rose to DC,5!Cs!p in 1,1!
This is surprising as he wrote in his notes #There has been only one good
night$s rain from April until the end of %eptember. ost of the crops were very
poor, but the tomatoes and cucumbers have been e&cellent. # The turkeys did
we"", so they must ha#e "iked the fine weather!
'n the ear"y 1,-s Dad p"ayed a few games of cricket mid>week for
2parsho"t! He a"so went to the "oca" dances and whist dri#es at )itt"eton,
Craw"ey and 2parsho"t, and ' think this is where he met 0um! 0um "i#ed
with her aunts at the #i""age post office and bakery in 2parsho"t! 2he was born
and brought up in 2outhampton, but her mother died when she was 1B, so she
came to "i#e and work with her aunts $e"" and A"ice, who ran the bakery and
post office together with their brothers! 2he he"ped de"i#er the bread around
the #i""ages of 2parsho"t, )itt"eton and Craw"ey! 0um and Dad were married
on 1B
th
Apri" 1,1 and they had a bunga"ow bui"t at the same time on the
nursery by 0r *airhead, a bui"der who "i#ed in the #i""age, at a cost of D1--!
0y brother @ohn was born on 5
th
0arch 1,C and ' arri#ed two years "ater on
,-
th
Apri" 1,8!
0ost of the instances ' ha#e recorded so far are those that ha#e been to"d
to me many times by my parents and grandparents, especia""y 6randad! He
was a great ta"ker! ' ha#e often been to"d that ' am "ike him!
We$ll talk of sunshine and of song,
And summer days when we were young'
%weet childish days, that were so long
As twenty days are now.
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&i""iam &ordsworth
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This is the o"d shop in &estern road! Connie / myse"f and the (os"ey fami"y at the opening of a
rep"ica of the shop now in the city museum
6randad outside the new stab"e and cookhouse in 111
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0any years "ater in 18B 7ichard, @ohn and
myse"f outside the stab"e and cookhouse
6randad on his way home to tea with his ?acket
o#er his shou"der taken in the same spot some
,- years "ater than the photograph be"ow
6randad working on his market garden in 111 being watched o#er by his dog 7o#er!
0r 2impson who "i#ed at F&ithens: across the road is picking peas
This is F0acrocarpa: bui"t by Horrie 2aint!
't is typica" of the homes that were first
bui"t on many of the p"ots in )itt"eton
FGuetta: bunga"ow which 0um and Dad
had bui"t on the nursery in 1,1 when they
were first married and in which ' was born
in 1,8 and "i#ed most of my "ife
Ta p e 3
r e! s"hool #ays
&e wou"d spend a "ot of our time, before we started schoo", he"ping Dad and
6randad on the nursery! &e a"so #entured sometimes on to the recreation
ground, which was ne<t door! This had been purchased by the Parish from 0r!
(ostock of )ainston House and cricket was first p"ayed there in 1,1! The
rec! , as it was known, was not mown right o#er "ike it is today! The on"y part
mown was the cricket pitch, or cricket fie"d, in the midd"e! The top and the
bottom of the fie"d were a""owed to grow, which was wonderfu" for us kids to
make tracks to craw" through!
'n the "ate summer it was a"ways a specia" occasion when it was cut for
hay! Char"ie Co<, a carter from )itt"eton 2tud, arri#ed with a grass mower
pu""ed by two "arge horses! ' remember ' fo""owed him round and round the
fie"d a"" the e#ening! ' sti"" remember the sme"" of the new"y mown grass,
especia""y the wi"d mint which grew at the top of the recreation ground! &hen
the grass had been cut us kids used to make camps, cars or anything e"se that
our imagination cou"d think of! &e were #ery disappointed when the hay was
taken away! 6randad wou"d ha#e had some of it for his pony!
' had a friend who ' used to p"ay with ca""ed (ob, who "i#ed in Ho""ands
C"ose! He a"so had a twin sister 7uby! 8ne day ' remember we c"imbed a tree
in the recreation ground! ' went up first, (ob fo""owed! &hen we decided the
time had come to get down, he got stuck ha"fway and he had to get his sister
to run home and get his 0um to he"p him down! He to"d me many years "ater
that his Dad and o"der brother ne#er "et him forget it!
&hen ' was about two or three ' had to go into hospita" for three days to
ha#e my tonsi"s out! Apparent"y ' cried the who"e time, but 0um was not
a""owed to see me because they said it might upset meI ' don=t remember
anything about it or what happened, a"" ' can remember now is the sme"" of
the ether!
' was a"ways #ery fond of my 6randad and spent a "ot of time with him
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in the market garden! *rom a #ery ear"y age we were a"ways encouraged to
he"p! 't might be feeding the anima"s or p"anting and picking up the potatoes!
As we "i#ed c"ose by we were often in#ited to tea by 6ranny and 6randad!
A"" the mea"s were eaten in the kitchen! 6ranny cooked on a b"ack kitchen
range, or perhaps in the summer on an oi" sto#e! There was no gas or
e"ectricity, ?ust an oi" "amp for "ight and a cand"e to go to bed! (efore we had
our tea we had to wash our hands! This entai"ed pu""ing a chair up to the
kitchen sink so that we cou"d reach the tap! ' remember the soapJ this was
a"ways a purp"e co"our and seemed rather gritty! &e then had to stand on
another chair to #iew the mirror to brush our hair! 8ur 3uiff, as 6randad
a"ways ca""ed it! &hen we had done this we were a""owed to sit at the tab"e!
Tea was usua""y bread and butter and ?am or perhaps 2hippams meat paste to
start with! 2ometimes it cou"d be some of 6randad=s "o#e"y pink ce"ery, or
dip>in, as he "iked to ca"" it, because you wou"d dip the ce"ery in the sa"t
before eating it! This was fo""owed by 6ranny=s fruit cake washed down with
some #ery strong tea!
&ith my grandparents e#erything had to be on time! They "i#ed by the
c"ock! They a"so "i#ed we""! (reakfast at ha"f past se#en with bacon, eggs and
perhaps some co"d bacon or a kipper, fo""owed by bread and butter and
marma"ade! Dinner was ha"f past twe"#e and was usua""y hot, e<cept on
0onday, wash day, when it was co"d meat from the 2unday roast, with bubb"e
and s3ueak! This was a"ways fo""owed by a pudding! 6ranny made a
wonderfu" spiced bread pudding! Tea was at ha"f past four and supper at nine
which was a"so 3uite a mea"! 't cou"d be soupJ or something "eft from dinner
and heated up! They "i#ed we"", with most of the food produced by
themse"#es! $o wonder Dad wrote in his diary that they "i#ed "ike fighting
cocks!
6randad wou"d take us sometimes in the pony and cart on his rounds to
&inchester! (rother @ohn was a""owed to occasiona""y dri#e the pony, @oe,
from door to door, a"though @oe wou"d know most of the customers,
especia""y the ones where he got a sugar knob, @ohn often said he must ha#e
been one of the "ast peop"e to dri#e a horse and cart through the &inchester
&estgate! &e a"ways finished up at the shop in Parchment 2treet, usua""y
about mid>day, whi"st 6randad wou"d un"oad the #egetab"es from the nursery
and "oad up the empty bo<es and baskets! 8ur treat then was to be taken o#er
the road to Portsmouth (akery, where they had a sma"" cafK and where we
18
were treated to a drink and a bun! &e were usua""y ser#ed by 0iss
Portsmouth who, in "ater years when her parents retired, came o#er the road
and took up the running of our shop! &hen @oe needed new shoes we wou"d
ha#e to stop on the way home at the b"acksmiths in 2tockbridge 7oad, which
was between City 7oad and the bridge! ' can sti"" remember the sme"" of the
forge and the burnt hoof!
2ometimes, before we came home, we wou"d ha#e to go out to &inna""
gasworks, which seemed 3uite a "ong way, to co""ect a "oad of coke to bring
back with us for Dad=s greenhouse boi"ers! This was a hea#y "oad for poor o"d
@oe, the pony, and 6randad and us boys wou"d ha#e to wa"k up a"" the hi""s on
the way home!
8ne of the occasions in &inchester in those days wou"d ha#e been the
autumn chrysanthemum show, which was run by the &inchester Horticu"tura"
2ociety! 't wou"d be he"d in the 6ui"dha"" and wou"d ha#e been o#er two days,
with 3uite a "arge number of peop"e attending! There were "ong tab"es down
the midd"e of the ha"", one with chrysanths of a"" co"ours, shapes and si%es!
The ones ' remember most were the great big incur#es as big as a baby=s
head! Another tab"e wou"d be of #egetab"es and another of fruit and a"" a"ong
one side under the ba"cony wou"d ha#e been wonderfu" co""ections of
#egetab"es! 'n front of the stage wou"d be a trade stand disp"ay of shrubs and
f"owers by Hi""iers! 8n the stage was another trade e<hibit, which cou"d ha#e
been by @effreys, who had a nursery in 2t! Peter 2treet! Dad and 6randad
wou"d ha#e their stand and e<hibit at the other end of the ha"" under the
ba"cony! 'n the ban3ueting ha"" there wou"d ha#e been groups of chrysanths in
pots entered by the professiona" gardeners from some of the "arge gardens and
estates in the area! This wou"d a"so inc"ude the Headmaster of &inchester
Co""ege=s gardener! 8n the "ast e#ening 0um wou"d take us to he"p c"ear up
the stand! ' remember how ' en?oyed running up and down the stairs, stairs '
wou"d get to know some years "ater!
(ecause Dad mi<ed si"#er sand into his compost, he a"ways kept it in a
pit ?ust outside the potting shed door, so we boys a"ways had a sma"" pit in
which to p"ay! 'f it was a wet day 6randad wou"d sometimes spend time in the
woodshed cutting up "ogs for the fire! He wou"d sit us on the "og on the
sawing horse whi"e he was sawing away with a #ery o"d rusty cross cut saw!
As we got o"der he wou"d "et us he"p by pu""ing the opposite end of the saw!
He wou"d te"" us off if we pushed instead of pu""ed, as this ?ammed the saw!
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&hen ' was about four, he took me in the pony and cart to Craw"ey,
where he p"anted some shrubs in front of the church, ' think they are sti""
there, and some trees by the &ar 0emoria"! As we came back by the schoo"
the Headteacher, 0rs! *ish, came out to ta"k to 6randad! 2he was one of his
customers in &inchester! 'n con#ersation she asked him when ' was going to
start schoo", but ' don=t think ' was too happy about that!
Christmas was near"y a"ways spent at 2parsho"t at the bakery and shop
with a"" the aunts! This was a"ways a #ery happy time! 8n Christmas 4#e Dad
wou"d ha#e to work "ate at the shop in &inchester making sure a"" the "ate
de"i#eries had been done! 0um, @ohn and myse"f wou"d ha#e to go on to
2parsho"t! &e were transported by 0r! Hi""ary, who was the "oca" coa"man,
but he a"so ran a sma"" ta<i ser#ice! ' can remember "ooking up into the star"it
sky and seeing shooting stars, and imagining it was *ather Christmas f"ying
across the sky! &e wou"d be greeted by the aunts, a"" bent on spoi"ing us! Dad
wou"d arri#e "ater, sometimes after we had gone to bed! 't was a wonderfu"
p"ace to spend Christmas, with the shop sti"" decorated for Christmas and the
bakehouse with a"" its enticing baking sme""s! A "o#e"y feature of the o"d
house was its chimney, which had a bacon "oft, where at one time bacon had
been smoked! 'f you "ooked up you cou"d see the sky and a"so the iron rungs
which were used to c"imb up to the bacon "oft! &e were to"d *ather Christmas
used these when he came! 8n Christmas morning there was a"ways some soot
in the grate at the bottom! 8ne of the bedrooms of the o"d house was turned
into a bathroom! The water was supp"ied by a hand pump from a copper
be"ow! The room a"so had a sing"e bed in which @ohn and myse"f s"ept! )ike
most chi"dren, we were a"ways awake ear"y on Christmas morning to open
our presents! 0um to"d us that in her young days on Christmas morning fo"k
from the #i""age wou"d bring their turkeys, chickens etc! to be cooked in the
bakehouse o#en! The ones they had at home were not "arge enough to take the
Christmas birds! Christmas dinner was a"ways a "arge mea" with a"" the
trimmings! The pudding was a"ways set a"ight and we cou"dn=t understand
why it didn=t burn! The mea" was a"ways fo""owed by a piece of stem ginger
out of a stone ?ar, a tradition we sti"" keep today! The afternoon wou"d ha#e
been spent p"aying with our new toys, or, if fine, going for a short wa"k with
some of the younger aunts! &hen the adu"ts had their g"ass of wine, we had a
kind of grape ?uice, which Aunt $e"" ca""ed Hboys= wineH! Christmas tea
a"ways comprised wonderfu" crisp ce"ery out of the garden and, of course,
20
Christmas cake made in the bakery and crackers out of the shop!
8n Christmas e#ening we wou"d go down the road to 7edthorn, where
Enc"e 2id "i#ed! Here we wou"d meet up with a "ot more unc"es, aunts and
cousins! As the shop was the post office it was a"so the manua" te"ephone
e<change which co#ered )itt"eton, Craw"ey and 2parsho"t, so there a"ways
had to be someone there to man it! This meant one of the aunts had to stay
behind! Dad said he cou"dn=t "ea#e an aunt there on her own, so he wou"d stay
with her! &hen e#eryone had got their drinks and inspected the Christmas
tree, *ather Christmas wou"d arri#e! &e didn=t know unti" a few years "ater
that this was Dad!
8n (o<ing Day we wou"d keep a "ook out for the Hunt, but ' can=t say
that ' e#er saw it, and in the afternoon we wou"d a"" go out for a wa"k with
some of the younger re"ations! 'n the e#ening we wou"d ha#e to come home
sat in the back of one of the "itt"e Dennis buses be"onging to the 9ing A"fred
(us Company! The #i""age &' Christmas tea party was an occasion we "ooked
forward to! )ong tab"es were decked out down the centre of the ha""! There
wou"d be sandwiches, cakes and, of course, ?e""y! After tea the tab"es wou"d
be c"eared away to make way for a con?uror, or sometimes a Punch and @udy!
This wou"d be fo""owed by party games, usua""y pass the parce", with
e#eryone passing on as 3uick as they cou"d so that they didn=t ha#e to perform
a forfeit! The e#ening finished with some dancing! This was especia""y for the
o"der chi"dren, perhaps encouraging them to come to the #i""age dances!
A"" this took p"ace in the #i""age 0emoria" Ha"", a p"ace where ' wou"d
spend some of the happiest times of my "ife! 6randad and Dad were a"ways
proud of the Li""age Ha"" and to"d us many stories of how it came to be bui"t!
8ne they "o#ed to te"" was about a meeting which was he"d in an e<>army hut
situated on the o"d recreation ground on *"owerdown! 't was short"y after the
end of the *irst &or"d &ar and they were there to decide on a memoria" for
those who had been ki""ed from the #i""age! They decided that they ?ust didn=t
want a stone, but something which wou"d be usefu" for future generations! A
#i""age ha"" was suggested! 0ost of the #i""age were there and consisted of
peop"e from a"" ranks of "ife! The 3uestion now was A how were they to raise
the moneyM Apparent"y at this point 6randad got up from his seat, turned to
the assemb"y and said Hhow many times over the last four years have I heard
people say what would I give to wake up tomorrow to find the war is over.
Well, the war is over and now is your time to give! HAn o"d sai"or sauntered up
21
to the p"atform and, p"acing some money on the tab"e, said to the chairman,
HHere is a starter for youH! 't rea""y was, for within a few minutes o#er D,--
was gi#en! After a"", they cou"dn=t be shown up by a poor o"d sai"or! 6randad
ne#er did "et on as to whether he had set it up! (y 1,1 the D7,1 was raised
and the ha"" bui"t!
't must ha#e been one of the first tragedies of my "ife when my brother
@ohn and myse"f were "ooking o#er the sty at the pigs! As it happened ' had
my teddy bear with me! @ohn took it from me to show it to the pigs and
prompt"y dropped it! (efore we cou"d get 6randad to get it back the pigs had
eaten it! ' didn=t "ike the pigs for a "ong time after that!
Thou happy day of sound and mirth
That long with childish memory stays,
How blest around the cottage hearth
I met thee in my boyish days.
@ohn C"are
22
23
)itt"eton:s first cricket team about 1,- they p"ayed
on Harestock Corner with 9enne" )ane! Dad is
seated in the midd"e without cap and unc"e *red is
behind him
' was about three years o"d and sitting on the "awn
outside the bunga"ow around tonsi" remo#a" time
@ohn and myse"f sat on 6randad:s cart pu""ed by @oe
the pony
The main road through the #i""age as ' remember it in the 1B-s on the right is the pond co#ered in
bushes and on the "eft is the beech tree and the house FHi""sbrough: both sti"" there
24
Enc"e 2id and great grandfather 6oater stand #ery proud"y in front of the new bakers: #an in the 1,-s
8"d ha"" bui"t in the 1,-s! 2ome of the happiest times of my "ife were spent in it

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