A Chiddingly history by William Chives

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The arrival      Where I used to play      I go to watch the sheep shearing   
  

The Lambing Season      The Hop-picking at Stream Farm      The old Water Mill at the Stream

 

The above are Wm Chives main headings, but there is much more here than this.  For easiest reading it is suggested you print out this page, which is approx 4 sides of A4.

 

This history is typed from Wm Chives manuscript, keeping by and large to his spelling and punctuation.

The paragraph headings used are also mainly the author's.

 

"My father John Chives having worked as estate carpenter on "Theddon Grange" estate for seventeen years in the county of Hants, for reasons unknown to me, (or forgotten, the fact being that I was but five or six years of age), decided to take the post as such on "Hilders Court" estate, Chiddingly, he having interviewed the owner, the last Thomas Sheppard Richardson, it was agreed in London by them, without my father having seen the place to which we were destined to come.

The arrival
It was on the 13th of April 1891 when we arrived pack and pillage, (as one oft heard said in those days) at the distant railway station Horeham Road and Waldron later on changed round to Waldron and Horeham Road, (today 1940 Horham). It was with an anxious look I remember, that my father often gazed on my mother's face during that journey. The train seemed it would never get to our destination, but we were to find on reaching it, that thick falling snow was gradually covering the whole landscape, folks seemed to be all hurry scurry to get home, as the darkness was descending with a bitter northeast wind blowing.

Away in the distance at the far end of the platform one could hear the clatter of many milk churns being loaded and unloaded, for in those days the bulk of the milk from the country districts was sent to London by train, in fact there was a special train morning and evening for milk only, which ran to London and in addition several trains had a number of churns filled with rich new milk to carry, many a time I have seen 40, 50, 60 and even 80 waiting, and more empty ones than that.

We will go back to the scene of our arrival at the station. We were strangers indeed in a strange land. Outside the station somewhere, there was to be a conveyance of some description to meet us. While my father went to try to find it, the canary which we had brought with us, began singing at top note (behind the blanket), also the tortishell cat made her first remark since leaving London. "Yes, Kit" (to mother) "there is a dogcart outside waiting to take us to Hilders, Chiddingly", said my father, "fancy sending an open cart, but we must make the best of it", so for three miles and a half we were driven through thick blinding snow, the coachman having to get down, also my father, to lighten the load for the horse while struggling up the hill from the station, at Pay Gate hill and again at Bulls Hill to Hale Green.

When however we did arrive at our new home at Chiswell Cottages, "The Holdens", there was a warm room with a cheery fire in the grate, also the same kind hearted neighbour, a Glouster woman, Mrs Bradshaw had got a pot of tea ready for us which was much appreciated. Now came the job of buttering the cat's paws to help her to settle down in her new surroundings.

And then to bed, to wake up in the morning in a new home, and what joy to any boy alive. My father seemed very dissapointed with his new post, and when he came in to dinner the first day, he said "Don't unpack the chattels Kit, we shan't bide here long", but we had come to stay, for both of my parents are buried in Chiddingly churchyard. However, I remember so well that they would often sigh, and say, "Oh for poor old Theddon and our homecured bacon", and the good old home-brewed beer.

I may say here, that my parents had kept a couple of pigs, and each year there came the process of killing them, when one was reserved for our family, and the other was sent to the butcher. I remember seeing the one which we had at home, being drawn through a mass of burning straw (after being stuck) to singe the hair off from its body, that was the way the Hampshire folks did it in those days instead of scalding, as is the procedure in Sussex.

As was ever the way with time, since the world was made, it kept rolling along, and with it we became more accustomed to the Sussex people, and the Sussex ways. I must say that it seemed to take my father a lengthy time to get used to the names of various tools, for instance the names as follows will give you a little idea of the differences in the two counties as known then, i.e. some fifty years ago. The garden digging fork, is called by Sussex folk a "spud", and a spade = a speard, or spearde, a double end hoe, was called in Hants a "beckhoe". Again the "handbill" or arnbull as was the Sussex name, was known in Hants as a barron hook, and a swop, or swap as bagging hook.

Again the 2 or 3 speened or spen-ed hoe as known in Sussex, was named tyned, tined, or grained hoe. Also to hoe a piece of ground in Hants meant to beck it, to clear it of weeds etc., one never saw folks digging up a piece of ground in the winter for instance, then working laborously chopping and pulverising the soil to plant potatoes etc. in the spring. The way of the folks down Hampshire way was to dig all ground in gardens, breaking it as they went along, and planting the potatoes at the same time, working back to a garden line, which was put forward, or rather behind the operator at a specified distance from the preceding row, after which the whole plot was never trodden on again, until the potatoes began to peep through the soil.

In case of weeds seedlings growing faster than the given time which it should take the potatoes to break through the soil, all that was needed to be done, was to take the specified distance from the first row, at the ends of which was a stick, and place the line as when planting, and the alleys could be weeded, leaving the rows quite undisturbed, till the crop was through. No drawing out drills, and having to fill them up again after putting the Murphy in, neither did they chop between the rows before earthing up but dug (or gritting up as the Sussex folks called it then).

Occasionally one would hear the very old Chiddingly folks ask of another "Hullo maite (or meit meaning mate) what be ee (ye) dooing dere (there) den (then). Gritting or earthing an um up?" The answer mostly was "Yus trying tut" or to-ut.

I have gone astray rather from my detailed experience but who does not, when one follows the trail of their thoughts, therefore I shall offer no apology, but now I will get me back to my early adventures and experiences in Chiddingly. Should you chance to lack interest in Chiddingly, past, or present, don't keep this little effort of mine idle on your bookshelf, but pass it on, there are others, who may revel in reading it, being that is is true.

Where I used to play, when able, or pass my leisure time.
Not being too robust when I youngster, I had need to take care, when choosing what games I should take part in, the main of my time was taken up (when free, after having chopped the morning wood and cleaned the contents of my mothers cutlery box each Saturday) with watching the different happenings on the estate; ploughing with horses for instance. Once I got leave from my mother to go to The Stream Farm, half a mile distant, to see the oxen at plough. I wished then, that I could sit down and paint a picture of them, what would I give to be able to, I thought.

I had memories of seeing the two teams of oxen going to a show, with the four teams of horses. One team of Greys, one of Blacks, one of Chestnuts, and one of Bays on the Theddon Estate, passing our cottage gate, what a grand sight too, that was, all horses manes and tails woven up with red, white, and blue braid.

A rosette each side of the head and all brasses clean and shimmering in the sun, the waggons all nicely washed, or newly painted, the horses hoofs all blacked, and the waggoners and their mate (or carter boys as they are named in Sussex) dressed up in clean, or new smock-frocks and billicock hats with the notable white bone horseshoe as buckle to the hatband, and tan thigh leggings with not a button missing.

All singing merrily, not forgetting the additional decorations of a polished row of bright brass bells fixed to the top of each horse's collar on the aimes, also a bow of new ribbon on each mates' whip which he carried along as proudly as though it might have been a banner and well he might, seeing that the endless number (12 I think) of brass ferrals which adorned his whip together with that bright bow had all been cleaned by his own hands.

Folks in those days lived for their work and gloried in it, were much more contented then than nowadays, and certainly better mannered, say what you will, "there is no meat so sweet as that which one earns by one's own labours" - and no job of work is more pleasing than when one goes to it each morning with an eager heart, and contentment within, after all, work was not intended to be a bore, if it is, there is something wrong with those who find it so, "work boys work and be contented" is a good old saying. And another of my own has been for many years, "there is nothing so bad that it couldn't be worse, but there is certainly room for improvement in most things", so why not do a bit of trying to improve it oneself.

I said that folk were better mannered in my earlier days, and who can dispute it. Education may have made great strides in some directions, but how often nowadays does one see a youngster ready to open a gate, or door for another, and again how often does a child say please and thankyou when given something. Alas, two of the most imporant things which go to make the backbone of a nation seem to be fading out, in this England of ours today, i.e. Courtesy and Respect. My parents always said "to lose respect for others was to lose it for yourself".

Another thing which has died out long since, which was always a sign of good upbringing, was the raising of the hand to the cap in the case of a boy, and the curtsy by a girl whenever meeting a Lady or Gentleman. Another saying of my father's was "always be sociable and polite to all, fast friends with few, and confident with one, and that should be your partner in life".

I go to watch the sheep shearing
Aye and away to the Stream Farm in shearing bent, and what a sight to behold, a group of merry men, clipping with accuracy and ease by hand until each fleece is neatly rolled up and stacked in a neat pile, while the animal relieved of its heavy wool, gets away to have a good shake. Ah, I see them now. Trimmer Gander, the head shepherd in those days. Joseph Gorringe, Amos Jenner, Joseph Smith, William White. All old hands of The Stream, but I must make it clear that all of those mentioned did not carry out the shearing.

The Lambing Season
How many people, I wonder, stop to think of the shepherd at this time of the year, "March", when up all night with the sheep while the bitter winds are howling around the fold. And often snow driving along which means that each lamb has to be taken extra care of, and kept warm. And should one lose its mother, or should the ewe be unable to feed it, the shepherd must needs feed it from a bottle. Then again another annual feast we used to delight in, was a Lambtail Pie. Many a time I have helped my mother to clean the tails, washing them, afterwards drying them well. Finally when all were dry, we would singe them. Sliced potatoes were put in the pie, and if you have never partaken of a Taily Pie (as I always called it when quite a youngster) then you have truly missed a treat.

The Hop-picking at Stream Farm
It will not be many years from now, when all of the old hands which used to go every year to The Stream hop-picking will have passed on, Stream being the last farm to grow hops in Chiddingly, the last field being at the top of Stream Hollow opposite the road leading up to The Holdens about 38 years ago.

I visit the old Water Mill at the Stream
It seems as but a few months ago when I went as a boy of ten or thereabouts, to view for the first time the old water wheel working, the thing that puzzled me most, how the rush of water could keep that mighty wheel turning. And what a mighty tumbling and splashing there was, as the water went hurtling headlong down into the darkness below, to pass on under the mill and there to be rushed ever forward by the oncoming flood behind, never ceasing day or night sometimes for nearly a week, which meant that the miller had little rest.

Mr Edward Dadswell was miller thirty years ago (or 40?). If ever there was a hard working man it was he, for many a time, in fact more often than not, he would be driving the steam engine as well as the water wheel all the night through. Often I have looked in to see him, when I was passing each morning, when fetching folks' daily papers at Chiddingly, which is to be made mention of in a further chapter. But alas, all that space of water lies idle now. That giant wheel like its owner will soon be forgotten. That, and that alone, is the real cause which prompts me to write this number of old memories (which still hold a fond place in my mind), just for others to read after I am gone.