Wright Family Album

Doris' memories - Shudy Camps 1925-1930

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How we all loved Shudy Camps: the rambling house with its unusual veranda, the large garden and outbuildings, the surrounding meadows and farmland; the copse running along the roadside; the white-barred gate we used to swing on; the empty country roads with the only buildings nearby being the church next door and Tilbrook's farm opposite.

The family - Basil Doris Barbara Mum Gordon Hugh Betty Dad Phil

The Vicar of the parish was Canon Thornton who lived in his own large property, the Hall. That was why the Vicarage could be rented out to us. He allowed us to swim and paddle in his lake where we emerged covered in filthy-smelling mud. When his plums were ripe Gordon wheeled around to the vicarage a wheelbarrow full of them. Eating so many of those made Phil ill. We were rarely ill and if we were we were just put to bed till we recovered. I never remember seeing a doctor. I know he lived about six miles away at Saffron Waldron because Mummy said he came over when David was being born but that was when we were away at school. Her panacea for practically everything external was Johnson's ointment, lint and bandages. All very different from Derby days when I remember several of us having English measles together; later, the others had whooping cough while I was kept isolated in a bedroom by myself with shingles round my middle. Our poor mother!


Auntie Pem with Auntie Nancy
Auntie Pem and Auntie Nancy     She was Daddy's older sister and before coming to live with us had been Assistant Matron at Camberwell Infirmary in London. Her large and generous Christmas presents we had all looked forward to: I particularly remember a much loved and played with doll's house she had given to Betty and me.
     Soon after we arrived in Shudy she retired and came to live with us. That must have been a great help to Mummy, having another adult in the house, although it meant cooking an egg or bacon for her breakfast. (We had our usual porridge and bread, butter and marmalade). It particularly meant that Mummy could go out to Sierra Leone and leave Auntie in charge during the occasional school holidays.
     She would often lend us her gramophone - a wind-up, portable H.M.V. - and we would play such favourites as 'The laughing policeman', 'In a monastery garden' and so on. Gordon raised the standard when he brought home such records as Donizetti's 'The Bride of Lammermoor' and the first movement of Brahms’s first symphony.
     She bought a tricycle soon after she arrived which she would allow us to try and ride; we went mostly straight into the hedge. It was a very unwieldy vehicle to steer.

Our real friends were our bicycles. How we enjoyed life on them. The roads were almost devoid of traffic so we could ride around them to our hearts' content. The boys had a race track round the garden shrubbery which they pretended was Brooklands, the motor racing track near Woking.

     After two or three years Auntie Pem took over the village store and Post Office, with its living quarters over the shop. Of course our trips down there were as frequent as possible because she was so generous, never letting us leave without a tuppenny bag of crisps each or a tuppenny bar of milk chocolate. There was only one fly in the ointment as far as that was concerned: she adored little Barbara so much that she invariably gave her double of everything. The rest of us naturally thought this very unfair, that the smallest should get more than even the eldest, and tended to take it out on poor Barbara. I have often thought since what a similar situation it was to Jacob and his family - many older children and two spoilt younger ones.

Auntie Pem at the Post Office (with Rip)
     When we left Shudy Auntie Pem stayed on in the Post Office.

Kitty, niece of Uncle Lawson, who used to come and help in the holidays     She was a niece of Uncle Lawson's (Auntie Bessie's husband) and as she was old enough to have left school used to come and stay with us and was a great help to mother, almost like a 'mother's help'. She was full of fun and we really enjoyed her company. It was she who was the moving spirit behind the entertainment we gave to the village. One of the items was 'Oh, No, John' with its unexpected twist in the last verse, sung by Gordon and Betty, who had a beautiful voice. (She used to sing solos in St Michael's chapel). This song so delighted the older lads in the village that they cheered until an encore was given. Another item was the Duchess scene from Alice in Wonderland where the baby all wrapped in a shawl turns into a little pig and runs off the stage - in the shape of our Manchester terrier, Pippy. The audience loved that too. The Cheshire cat was Hugh because he was at the seven year old stage when his front teeth were missing and his toothless grin kept appearing and disappearing from behind a curtain.

MR & MRS ANDREWS.Old Bill, occasional gardener
     They, with their family, lived in the village and were a great help to our family. Mr Andrews did many odd jobs for mother in the garden such as putting up a chicken run and Mrs Andrews helped in the house. She used to come up every Monday morning and do all our washing in the laundry. This was a room attached to the house but only accessible from the yard. In one corner was the built-in brick boiler with a fire below which, when well stoked could bring the water up to the boil for all the dirty linen cloths and cotton clothes. After washing, the white clothes had to be blued and the cloths starched; then as many things as possible put through the wooden mangle, carefully watching one's fingers in the process. Other clothes were washed in a tub with the 'dolly' - a bronzed ‘bell’ with holes in and a long wooden handle which one plunged up and down in the warm soapy water. Sometimes the boys socks were so stiff with dirt (our clothes were only changed once or twice a week) that they had to be rubbed by hand as well. Sometimes Mrs Andrews took down extra washing to her own home to do there. When Monday mornings were rainy all the clothes had to dried in the kitchen on wooden 'horses' and the invaluable pulley attached to the ceiling near the fire. All the washing was done with bars of yellowish household soap.

Tuesday was ironing day which mother, Betty and I did. Large tablecloths, etc., were ironed on the deal kitchen table on top of an old blanket covered by a sheet; shirts, etc., were done on a plank of wood, also covered and sewn over with blanket and sheet, one end resting on the table and other end on the back of a chair.

For her cooking mother had the iron ‘range’ which sometimes smoked or sulked, depending on the wind or how the 'dampers' were pulled out. She also had a primus stove on a little table and, in the scullery, a three burner oil stove with oven - far more dependable for cooking cakes, etc. than the range. Both rooms were large and roomy, like all the rooms in the house.

MISS BROWN (Auntie Mary as we called her)
     She was a friend of Auntie Pem's who came to help her during the first Christmas holidays when our mother was out in Sierra Leone. My only recollections of her were that she was a very pleasant lady.

     They were our cousins from Kings Langley whom we saw quite a lot of during our Shudy days. Not Nora, the oldest, because she was much older even than Betty. (There is a photo of her with our family on the beach at Herne Bay) . We saw more of Theo. Even she was older than Betty. She was the one we were most fond of. Margaret was my contemporary and we shared a bedroom whenever she came to stay. Their four older brothers never came. They were so much older, I never even knew their names.

1. A Nancy and children at Kings Langley, Hertfordshire.    2. The Whites (females) - A Nancy Margaret Theo Norah.   3. A Nancy U Tom and children Two older boys missing.  4.Three White boys.
1.A Nancy & children at Kings Langley  2.   3.   4.
     Their mother, Auntie Nancy, was Daddy's younger sister. Their father, Uncle Tom was an organist. (Not to be confused with Daddy's younger brother, Uncle Tommy.)

1. Aunty Nancy with Auntie Denny (Uncle Tommy's wife, who married another Uncle Tom when he died).   2. Uncle Tommy Wright, 1914-18 war, GGW's youger brother and A Denny's first husband.
1.   2.

     This was our Clemont Bayard 1904 car. It was a two-seater with a folding roof, a dicky seat behind, a sloping bonnet in front and a running board with large outside hand brake and rubber horn.
     Daddy drove it up from the south, then, when he had to return to Africa, left it to its fate with Mummy. Gordon and Phil were a great help in getting it started with the winding handle, which was often a hard, long task. One always had to wind it with the thumb close to the fingers, not on the opposite side of the handle, in case it swung back on itself and broke one's thumb.
     The man who was supposed to teach Mum to drive never put in an appearance so she decided to take it out on the road by herself. The first thing she did was to tread on the accelerator instead of the brake and went straight into the hedge! After a time she and Gordon mastered it and we had some fun rides on it. Not far away there was a steepish little hill which Ruth found difficult to climb. The trick was to let her go down backwards and up the hill behind in reverse then, with good momentum downwards, it would manage to make it to the top of the hill in front.

Basil's memories

David's memories

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