CHIDDINGLY ORAL HISTORY  P2

Introduction     Page 1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10    11    12

THE 1891 CENSUS

These details are as accurate as possible; parts of the Census are difficult to read, and there may be small inaccuracies in my extrapolation of information.

Population: 901

310 men : 260 women : 331 children under 14 : plus 17 visitors

Ages: Oldest man - 97 Oldest woman - 88

32 men aged over 70 16 women aged over 70

74 men aged 50-69 72 women aged 50 -69

83 men aged 30-49 86 women aged 30-49

128 men aged 14-29 92 women aged 14-30

Family groups: Unmarried sons and daughters live with their parents, unless they are servants living at their place of employment. There are 7 houses containing only one person in each. There is one bachelor man living alone.

There are 20 widowed men. 3 live alone, 1 lives with his son, 1 lives with a male cousin. 2 lodge with a widow. The rest have housekeepers (usually widowed women) or female relatives living with them. Three widows live alone, one over 80. One lives on Parish Relief, one on her own means, and one earns a living as a needlewoman. 17 households have a lodger.

Disabilities: There are two 'imbecile' children listed, both in the same family. One married woman is listed as "deaf from childhood", and one man without an occupation is listed as "partly deaf". A man and his two sisters, all in their fifties, live together on Parish Relief. The man and one of the sisters are "deaf and dumb", the other sister is "partly deaf".

Servants: 20 households out of 204 keep a living-in servant. 6 households keep more than one servant. The Richardsons (a gentleman, his wife and his wife's sister) at Hilders Court have 6 indoor servants and 5 outdoor servants living in cottages on the estate with their families.

Retirement: There are 4 men listed as 'retired' and 8 men listed as 'living on their own means". 2 are listed as paupers and 4 are on Parish Relief. One is on an Army pension.

Place of birth: 97 adults are listed as having been born in Chiddingly. Nearly everybody else was born within a few miles. There are a few exceptions: A family who work at Hilders Court, also a family living at 'Holdings': Dorset. A family who work at Hilders Court: Cornwall. A groom: Norwich A married woman: Somerset. 2 collectors of rags, a domestic servant, a married woman and her sister, a niece, a woman teacher: London. A labourer's wife: Middlesex. A farmer's wife's mother and brother: Essex . A farm labourer's wife and a hawker's wife: Cambridge. A 15-year-old carpenter staying with his uncle: Manchester. A labourer: Ireland.

OCCUPATIONS - MEN

Visitors' occupations (if given) are included:

56 farmers and farmer's sons   1 postman   1 Director of Bank

118 agrcultural labourers, farm   10 draper/grocers and assts.   1 vicar

? labourers and farm servants   1 plumber/painter   3 clerks

3 shepherds (spelt shepperds)   1 paperhanger   1 timber wood merchant

9 millers and assistants   1 butcher's apprentice   6 gardeners

3 wheelwrights   2 general dealers   1coachman

5 carters   1 builder   1 page boy

3 blacksmiths   6 carpenter and assistants   1 indoor servant

2 farm foreman   2 publican/innkeepers   3 groom/gardeners

2 gamekeeper   2 milkmen   1 schoolmaster

1 farm bailiff   9 baker and assts.   2 proprietor of business

1 farm manager   9 bricklayers and asst. brickmakers

1 bootmaker   3 hawkers

2 paupers   1 thatcher   6 collectors of rags

8 living on own means   4 living on Parish Relief   1 retired tradesman

1 retired miller   1 not able to work - army pension   1 retired coachman

1 retired draper/grocer

The youngest working man is an agricultural labourer aged 13. Several labourers are in their seventies.

OCCUPATIONS - WOMEN

There are no occupations listed for married women, except the Schoolmaster's wife who is listed as Schoolmistress. Many unmarried daughters over school age are also without an occupations, presumably helping their mothers in the home.

Widows support themselves by taking in a lodger if they have young children, or working as a washerwoman, or hawker. Older widows are seen to be working as housekeepers for widowers. One widow runs a smithy, employing her brother and grand-son.

1 Needlewoman   2 Charwomen   2 Housemaids

3 Dressmakers   2 Washerwomen   2 Cook/domestic servant

1 Farmer's daughter   1 Dairymaid   22 General domestic

1 Blacksmith   2 Laundresses servants

1 Schoolmistress   1 Licensed hawker   14 Housekeepers

2 Teachers   3 Hawkers

2 Publicans   1 Grocer

2 Laundresses

3 living on own means

Life before the Second World War - 1890-1939
You've got to think that
in the olden days, Chiddingly was split up into hamlets. People living at Golden Cross wouldn't really know what was going on in the village. You had hamlets at the Gun, at Whitesmith, at Golden Cross and at Muddles Green.

We lived in Nash Street, and you just didn't know what was going on at, say, Whitesmith, places like that. There didn't seem to be that communication. Separate little hamlets, or sections, within a village.

Childhood
In the very old days,
the Village Hall used to be a school. Before the Chiddingly School was built, this is. My mum came here. Lots of our mums came here.

The main part was the top class, and the kitchen area was for the infant school. There was a gallery, too. We had a huge old-fashioned heating stove. My older brothers and sisters came here to school, but when I was seven, I went down to the new school, so I don't remember much about it.

I should say about a hundred or more children came to the school at the Village Hall. I know when we went to the new school, I can remember the board up there - 144.
****
There was never a shortage of so-called canes at school in my time, as the Head often called out a couple of the biggest boys to go down to the wood at the bottom of the field joining the school playground, Coneybury Wood (or Canterbury as some would call it, the former being the right name). And was those stick made of cane? It oft proved otherwise, especially as the knots were left rather badly trimmed off. Also being green, they fell very heavy upon those who were unfortunate to receive punishment therefrom.

The Head belonged to the old time Volunteers, and each year would go for a fortnight's training, and did we get a drilling after he came back. Fall In, Rogith [?] or Left Dress, Eyes Right or Left. Then he would proceed to the end of the line (with a thick book in hand often) and woe betide the boy or girl who was a least bit out of line. I myself received a sudden surprise in the back of my head with that book, which sent me flat on my face which temporarily robbed me of consciousness, which gave the Head good cause for fear. However, I never received such a second time.

In the Rectory garden there grew a very tall pear tree (it was still standing in 1940). The name of the pears was Sugarloaf. Every year when that tree bore a fair amount of small, sweet, juicy pears, the Rector would call over at the school nearby and ask for two of the oldest boys. He would then proceed back to the Rectory with them. Very soon they would all three return to the school, and two boys carrying an old-fashioned clothes basket. The Rector would then proceed to hand them round to the infants first, continuing in the upper standards. Hence the pear tree was nick-named "The School Pear".

Now when we first came to Sussex in 1891, my mother was greatly concerned to see the children with no Sunday School to attend. She approached the old Rector, asking his permission to start one in the weekday school. She was delighted when on the first Sunday there were over thirty came. At the end of twelve months, there were seventy on the books, three teachers and one who could play the harmonium.
****
I can remember only one of my grandparents. My grandfather was 91 when he died. He used to own the three thatched cottages at Muddles Green. Half a crown [12.5p] a week each. He used to collect his rent every Monday, 7/6 [38p] for the three. He used to walk from Carters Farm. If we behaved ourselves, he brought some black and white sweets back. If we didn't, we didn't get them!

He used to feel the cold when he was over 90. One day he was sitting by the grate, smoking his pipe, and he said, "If you boys don't behave... "and he shoves the poker in the fire and it comes out red-hot - and we ran off! We ran into Mother in the hall and knocked a tray to the ground. Of course, upstairs we had to go. We got put to bed for a little while! Of course, it was Grandad's fault, because he really scared us! But they were boss in those days, you know.

My grandfather was a gardener. They tell me that grandmother and grandad had a little shop up at Maynards Green. But there wasn't enough in it to pay, so he went gardening. He was a good gardener, too. Then my father and Uncle Bill went into partnership, when Uncle Bill wasn't drunk.

Of course mother had had no schooling, no schooling at all. She had to look after her brothers. But she could buy a horse and she could buy a cow! I used to write her letters for her. She could just sign her name. There were fifteen in our family, and my mother brought up thirteen. I was a twin; me and my brother were the youngest. We weren't identical, he was fair and I was dark. He was Mummy's boy and I was Daddy's boy.

Dad was from a farming family. He had Carter's Farm. That's where I was born, and Ken Funnell's grandmother brought us into the world, she was the midwife.

When I was four years old, about 1911, I used to get up with my Dad and leave Carter's Farm at six o'clock in the morning and go to Eastbourne for the whole day, selling pigs. We had a four-wheeled wagon, like a van, with rubber tyres. We had an Aunt down there who used to cook us a lovely meal. Dad used to go in the butcher's shop and get three rump steaks and she cooked them up. She was a wonderful cook.

I think when I was about four my Aunt Grace took us to Eastbourne and we went round the lighthouse. We nearly drowned that day, because the old sea gets so rough!

We used to try to kill the pigs twice a week, and we supplied Mercer and Bassett for thirty years. I think the most we killed in one week was 40. Dad used to take chickens, because he used to 'cram' chicken as well. There were two men cramming chicken, and three women stubbing three times a week, taking the stubs out - after they take the feathers off you get stubs, so then you have to get them out. They've got machines now. We used to supply all the chickens and pigs in Chiddingly, Dad did, at one time. Dad used to breed horses for Eastbourne Corporation.

We used to have a horse and coach, and my brother used to take this coach to Mayfield every Monday as a traveller, and he used to come home at 6 o'clock at night and he got 10 shillings [50p] for that.

Mother made a hundred pound of butter a week, using the skim-milk for the pigs. But in 1917, the ration got down to 2 oz per person, during the '14-'18 War, so she says "I'm not doing no more." So they joined Horam Road Creamery.

My father went to the schoolmaster to get me out of school a half hour earlier. I learnt to milk when I was eight. And I fed my father's horses, I had to stand on a box to feed them. I did milking till I retired - fifty-seven years I was milking!

School was all right! I took first prize in gardening three years running!

The Schoolmaster got called up in the army (that's the 14-18 War), and we had a Mistress here. She lived in one of my Grandad's cottages. The boys gave her a hard time. One boy, he wouldn't do nothing, so she sent him into the old thatched cottage to light her a fire. He took one of the faggots and stuck it in her bed! The next time, he emptied her pot in the bed! He said, "She won't ask me no more!"

The toilets were all at the back, behind the school in the playground. They had a little back-door so they could take the bucket out, you see. Well, some of these boys, they looked through that back-door up at the teacher when she was in there and made remarks, and she got up quick! Course, she couldn't do nothing to them. She couldn't use the cane.

Later on, Old Miss Brown used to hit the children. That ruler used to come down on your knuckles! But of course she had a Master at the top to back her up. Of course I didn't do nothing like that. I was a good little boy, because when you got home you'd get a thrashing from Dad, or Mum! I'd sooner be gardening. Mum had to be strict, with so many kids.

We used to go in that old shop there, at Muddles Green, and she used to come out from doing the grate, with black hands! This was before Mrs Westgate. 'Mother Smutters' they called her, or some such!

The only time the young people really used to meet was every Spring, when they used to go fox shooting. You used to have about 40 guns. Old Correl (?) the Keeper, he was worried about the foxes getting his eggs and so on, he used to give us little kids half-a-crown, and we used to have a packet of biscuits and little bottles of squash, the fizzy stuff. That was Mr Correl's gift. They used to kill up to thirty or forty foxes of a Spring, you know.

We used to have a do at Pekes every year. I won two or three prizes there. Bike rides. You had a lovely meal. We used to look forward to that. Hayden Morris, he was a nice old boy. He used to have two Arabs work for him. The boys used to tease them. He said, "You leave off, they'll cut your throats!"

We had the old shoemender Charley Crossingham. Mother was a good customer to him with all us kids. To get a hot drink at dinner times we'd go up to his place - because he had a fire going, you see. It was lovely and warm. He was like a mum to us.

We had a man used to work for us, he used to live with us, he had ten shillings [50p] a week and his keep. But he wouldn't have it in a ten bob note. "No, no," he said, "I want four half-crowns." He didn't trust paper money. He used to save up, and Charley used to save up, and they'd see who could buy the most brasses - horse-brasses. He must have had hundreds of pounds-worth when he died.
****
I was born in the Old School House, in 1918, and lived there until I got married. I was called up in the Army in 1939. My father worked for Miss Anderson at Stone Hill. He was head gardener there. My brother went to work with him at the same time. He went from school there, and he's been a gardener ever since.

Mother was the School Caretaker, or Cleaner as they were called in those days. That was after her children were born. My father used to help, because it was a man's job to look after the boiler. You had to stoke the boiler in the boiler-house. The Old School House was just a few yards up the road. It had been the school before the Village Hall was used, and that was before Chiddingly School was built in 1906.

The old school had two rooms just inside the gate, that was the actual school. The building next door was the tool house, where they used to cut hair and sharpen tools. That's now a barber's shop.

Charlie Crossingham used to mend shoes. It was a saddlery at one time. We always used to take our harness down there to Charlie. Do you remember his spittoon? He used to make horse collars. And peg boots. He offered to make me a pair of peg boots one time, without a stitch or a nail in them. All wooden pegs. I said, "I suppose they'd be a bit heavy, Charlie."

He said, "Yes!"

His old teapot would be simmering on the fire. It was a bit black and tasted like tar! We all used to go in and see him. He liked anyone to come and see him, I think. He played in our local brass band. Charlie played - I can't remember what it was - rather a large instrument. When he played in the band, someone had made a rod up, that they could pull him along on his tricycle. The man in front was pulling him along, to keep up with the band. I think he played the bass. I didn't play anything - I was the black sheep of the family! My brother played the trumpet, and my elder brother played the side drums. My father, he was in the band as well. He was also the captain of the bell-ringers for years. And it was my brother who wrote the music for the hand-bells. Hand-bells are played by numbers. He had to take the tunes and put them to numbers for the hand-bell ringers.
****
When we lived down in Stream Farm, when I was five I used to walk all the way to school, that's three miles each way.
****
When I left school I worked with horses. I worked at a riding school. That's all I wanted to do, the whole time I was in school. I had a pony of my own; I got it from gypsies. We were walking along the road and these gypsies came along, and they said, "Ma'am, would you like a pony?" And I'd never had one. We had two paddocks at our house. So I said, "Well, if you'll bring it along home," - we were about two miles from the house, - "I'll come with you and we'll see if my father will buy it for me." Which he did! So that started my horsey life. Mind you, it was a bit of a donkey-pony!
****
Our grandfather had two horse carriages. We called them wagonettes. Like the sort of thing you see the Royalty riding about in! Of course we used to go to the Baptist Chapel at Blackboys, and we used to go in these wagonettes. One could hold 13 people. It was like a greenhouse on wheels, glass all round. You weren't allowed to do anything on a Sunday, only just the necessary on the farm, milk the cows and feed the chicken.
****
We used to make our own fun, as children. Wonderful fun. Into the woods to make camps. One particular game amongst the boys at Chiddingly School was during the dinner time, to go down into that wood, and cut out a big hazel stick for a bow. And we'd cut out a few thin arrows of the same hazel. Then, if we could get a few coppers we went up to Westgate's shop to get a ball of string for the bow. And then of course, set up a target and see who could shoot the furthest.

Of course in the Autumn we used to play conkers a lot. Tops, and marbles. You weren't allowed to play marbles after Good Friday. The game you played with marbles was that you chalked a circle in the playground, and your team put in so many marbles each. Then you got the brass 'alley' and went round to see how many you could knock out, to see who won. But if you were found playing after Good Friday, that was considered an offence, and the bigger boys would come along and smash the marbles.
****
William Chives in "Chiddingly" - these games of marbles dating back to the 1890's....

"Peg tops had a topknot which we always said caused the whole top to wobble, so it always had to be cut off. "Peg in the Ring" - each boy would place a specified number of marbles in a ring about 1 ft in diameter, there being sometimes a much larger ring round it. Should a boy succeed dividing the group of marbles with his peg top, he may be fortunate enough to get one or more right outside the larger ring, in which case he would claim the same.

"Block marble" - the game was played by putting a certain number down in a small ring. Toss up to find the first one to start. He would spin a block, square in shape, roughly 2 inches each way,. Whichever letter on the block came up top, so he would act accordingly. Namely: T stood for take (he would take whatever number he had placed in the ring). P stood for put (he would be called upon to put his number down again, making two lots in the ring). A stood for all (that player claims the lot). H stood for half (half the number in the ring would be claimed). N stood for none (the game remained the same). O stood for out (that player was out of the game entirely).

"Ante Hole" which some would insist on writing as Auntie Hole. Each player would call out Ante 5, or Ante 4, whatever he could spare. He would take two lots in his hand. He would place his toes at a line marked a good 4 feet away from a wall, or fence or post, in front of which the Ante Hole had been cut out in the ground, like a pocket. Then into the Ante Hole he would toss the marbles all at once. Even numbers outside the hole, he was the winner; odds out, he was the loser.

"Chaser" or "Chivy Chase" has been the means of many a couple of boys being late for school. They would work their way to school by shooting at each other's marble, usually a bosseye.

Bosseyes, or bossies were large coloured glass ones about 1 inch in diameter, with the colours intertwined inside. Allys or allies were slightly smaller glass ones. Blood allies were made of marble with the blood-like veins in them, about half an inch in diameter. Small marbles, all colours, were about half an inch in diameter. There was also a certain kind of white glass ally which was never reckoned as a genuine marble. Those were named "bottle stoppers", as they were used in the neck of lemonade bottles. Many a good lemonade bottle has been sacrificed for the bottle-stopper inside.

Bosseyes were 1d [less than p] each. Blood allies 1/2d [a half old penny] each. Smaller glass coloured allys 1/2d each. The smallest baked and painted marbles were 15 for 1/2d. Peg tops, large 1d each, small 1/2d each."
****
One thing we used to do, we had over two miles to walk to school and we had these metal hoops, in the cold weather, and a stick with a nail in it, and we used to run all the way to school with these metal hoops.
****
William Chives on the hoops of the 1890's...
"Small iron hoops made from 3/8 inch iron, about 18 inches in diameter cost 9d or 10d. Larger thicker ones, made by Mr W Baker of the Forge at Muddles Green would cost 1/6d [8p]. If made with loose rings to run round the hoop to form music when trundled, it was charged at 1/2d a ring. Should a boy be fortunate enough to own one with rings on, it would be the envy of all the school. We lived with the said blacksmith some years when I was at school, and always turned the grindstone for him when grinding the millbills which the local millers used for dressing the millstones with for grinding grain. The smith made me a champion iron hoop, thick, with a dozen rings on it. He gave it to me for Christmas, for turning the grindstone."
****
I'll tell you what we used to do when it was getting dark. We'd get bricks and try to throw them at the bats! They used to fly round the house.

Mostly we played separately from the girls. They didn't normally play with us.
****
William Chives again. On boys' amusements at the turn of the Century...
"One thing, which though forbidden was often practised, was trying to put a stone over the top of the Church spire by means of three things, i.e. catapults, slings and a scaler. The scaler, meaning to scale or climb, was a stick about half an inch or one inch thick, slightly split at one end, far enough down to hold a nice round pebble firmly in the jaws, or split. The owner would hold it down partly behind him as though sticking it in the ground behind, without looking at it. Then with a mighty twist of the wrist he would bring it up, gripping on to it, and out would go that stone, skimming into the air.

The owner of Chiswells Farm had a good old-fashioned cycle, the notable Penny Farthing. He had ridden it to London and back on two occasions. As was ever the way with boys, there are always plenty of admirers of anything fresh in the way of amusements and in those days one had to make all one's own amusement. No motors, very few cycles, only the rich could afford them, and no buses and no cinemas. And to cap the lot, as we say, there was very little money that ever found its way into a boy's or girl's pocket. I for one itched to try riding that bike, so I was given the chance. I received a mighty push off from behind which sent me hurtling down the hill. Halfway down I spied a large Sussex flint. Now that bike seemed to head straight for that flint, no matter how hard I tried to steer clear. Of course I went through the air with the greatest of ease. I always felt thankful for only having barked knees and lacerated hands, for on collecting myself, I beheld the Holdens' mill van with the horse trotting round the corner at the bottom of the hill. Thanks to providence I had been spared a much worse mishap.

Did I learn to ride the Penny Farthing? - rather. And soon after that I rode another

old-fashioned steed, a three-wheeled tricycle, one wheel being on one side, and another on the opposite side, while the third was placed directly in front of the right hand one, in straight line with the one behind it, not in the centre of the back ones as one sees today. The quaint form of steering was this-wise; two handles were placed at the side of the rider, one for steering (which connected by a rod of iron to the top of the foremost wheel) and the other handle at the side was connected with a brake, which when turned (or twisted) with the hand would cause two metal shoes, shaped to the tyres, to rub the tyres. The handles themselves resembled a stable fork (or spud). The tyres on all cycles in those days were of rubber, solid, about half an inch to one inch thick (then called solid tyres).

The months of April and May were eagerly watched for while I was attending school, as the annual Rook Shoot meant a bit of sport for the six or eight eldest boys that happened to be at school. The Shoot always took place down at "Latchetts" Rookery. The boys must be good at climbing, as there were often so many of young rooks hard hit but suspended in the branches or in the nests, and these boys were needed to climb up and shake, or poke them down. What were the birds used for? Well, if you, dear reader, have never partaken of a rook pie, then you have certainly missed a treat. The poor people in the village would sometimes look forward to that day with delight, for the ordinary wages did not allow for much butchers' meat to be had. The labourer's weekly wage was 15/-. [75p]"
****
The girls played netball, stool ball and rounders. And we used to skip a lot, and also leapfrog. We loved that. The girls had wooden hoops. They were lighter and safer. But you didn't have a nail on, see, you just kept hitting it along all the time.
****
I did skipping, playing with a ball, a hoop, and I did a lot of reading and sewing and knitting. You also played marbles with a wooden contraption with holes cut out. It had numbers on, round the holes. You used to bowl them, and whichever hole you got them through, you counted the numbers up to see who'd won.

Although there were nine of us, my mother used to make the boys' suits, and I remember that I made a pair of trousers for one of the boys before I went to school. If it was a very wet day, my mum thought it was no good trying to do any cleaning, because we'd only got brick floors, so we'd sit down and sew all day. Jackets, she'd make. Lunch bags, coats. The boys didn't sew. Didn't have the patience, I suppose.
****
Birthdays were hardly recognised. There was no such thing as a birthday card. People's parents were so poor that they hadn't got any money to spend on such things.

I used to go out cover beating on Saturdays. Traipsing about the wood all day to drive the pheasants out when the shooters were all round the outside, for that I got a rabbit. That was my wage. And on Monday morning I used to take it to Chiswells Farm whare my old grandad was, and he took it into Lewes, and I got 1/6 [8p] for that. And with that, I used to save up and buy my own Christmas present and birthday present!
****
My mum had been to the school when it was at the Village Hall. I hated school. But I was excellent at gardening. Mr Sturdey the Headmaster lived in the house next to the school, and he had a big garden, and he hated gardening. The last summer I was there I didn't even do one lesson in a month. When I got there in the morning, he'd say, "Well, you might as well spend the day out in my garden." I used