Wright Family Album

Basil's memories - Bourton 1930-1935

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The family moved from Shudy Camps to Bourton, N.Dorset, in order to be near the Grandparents (Binns).  They lived in a secluded cottage Combeside in Penselwood, and were very elderly.  It was a 'bonus' for us 4 boys because 3 of us were now at school at Weymouth College.

For most of these years - as at Shudy Camps - mother was the guiding light and spiritual mentor.  They were tranquil times in the 4-bedroom semi-detached cottage, though, with hindsight we must have tested Mother's sturdy vigour and patience.  The picture at meal times in the small dining room - 'fidgety' Phil who liked stewed plums and custard. In the summer we 3 boys would cycle alternate days to Wincanton and Mere, to do some shopping.

On our first holiday, the 5 of us (Betty was at Camberwell Hospital and David was too young) were led by Gordon and went and explored part of the pleasant Dorset countryside.

Mother had the vision of creating a rockery; so Phil and I spent pleasant hours digging and carrying top soil and stone, to make it according to her design.  Later it was so colourful.

I proudly bought my first 2 piece suit, made to measure at Wincanton.

We spent much time tramping over to Combeside, to visit Granny and Grandpa; we so enjoyed the picnic in the woods there on a summer's day.  Granny would buy 4 Ibs of sausages.  I haven't tasted such nice ones since!  Part of the fun was all of us were a part of a close-knit family.

I can recall Father joining us for one holiday.  Some of the family stayed in a 'tin roof hut' in Pen pits.  Philip and I were put up in the village.  What a sense of expectancy when we tramped on a lovely sunny morning to the hut for breakfast.  We played tennis - Father was the firm 0.C.(Officer-in-Charge) - with the Parsons family on their court at the vicarage. Also Father did duty in place of the Revd Parsons.  His elder son Roger, was a student at Blundell’s School. Nancy still keeps in touch with the daughter, Betty.
Playing tennis at Bourton

One summer when a few of the Shepherd family were staying at the Vicarage, there was a village cricket match at Penselwood.  One of the men collapsed during the game.  Uncle Kenneth said that he had had a heart attack.

On a rough grassy pitch at Bourton, three of us boys played for the local side.  The outfield was also rough grass, so it was difficult to make a big score. On two occasions 3 of the boys played cricket against Charlton Hawthorn team. I remember having a "soft spot' for a girl spectator at one of those matches.

The last 2 years one of our friends, Major Maggs, took a few of us Doris, Hugh and myself, for some instructive walks.  He knew the history of the district - the old Roman road, and the boundary stone where 3 counties met - Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire.  It was on a narrow canal on his land that we paddled in a small boat, made by Phil.  It had a canvas and wood hull and was solidly built - called 'Water's Wet'1 & 2. This gave us much enjoyment.

Mucking around in Maggs pond

We didn't make many friends in the village because we were a tightly-knit family and were satisfied by our joint activities.

The icecream supplied by the village shop tasted like frozen custard.  There was a hardware and general store next door to it. Auntie Win (Britton) lived a short walk away in the village and we enjoyed paying her a visit.  She was full of ideas and fun and made a successful House-Mother at Weymouth College.

Our other hobbies were Meccano; and Phil made a very successful wireless set, run by a wet 12 volt battery (accumulator).  We used to call out Mr. Batho, from Gillingham, when it needed a change of batteries.  Every evening before going to bed Phil had to turn off the hand switch of the aerial, in case of a sudden thunderstorm.  We had fun playing popular music (but not jazz) on the HMV gramophone.

Auntie Bessie and Uncle Lawson paid a visit. Uncle Lawson was a well-spoken lawyer and impressed me by his knowledge of the world and public events.

On one or two occasions the Shepherd family visited CombeSide. Uncle Kenneth had a saloon car.  When he took us for a ride to Stourton Tower, along a bumpy gravel road, some of us stood on the running board.  The tower was a landmark in the wooded hills, where King Alfred raised his standard before going to fight and defeat King Guthrum and the Danes.  Father was a great admirer of King Alfred, who later became King of Wessex.

On a visit to the Laurels, during term time, Auntie Nellie brought John, their 3rd son, who unfortunately had meningitis.  Sadly he died there.

In 1935, during the celebrations for King George V's Silver Jubilee, Hugh and I erected a Union Jack from the upper windows, with an outside light.

On Sundays we dutifully went to Morning Prayer at the Parish Church, up the hill on the far side of the village.  Mother was not encouraged by the Rev Roden's sermons.   However, we went one Christmas to a party at the Vicarage and got to know their 2 children.

When we had visitors it was ‘all hands to the deck’; the girls were more involved than the boys. Mother's word of wisdom was
    Hold   ) which we tried hard to observe.
    Back  )

With Mother's encouragement we went on cycle tours.  Phil and I went for 2 or 3 days and followed the course of the River Stour, to Wimbourne.  Another summer holiday we went through south Somerset, to Cheddar, where the cheese was delicious.  At night we found a -hopefully - quiet corner of a field; and got into home-made canvas sleeping bags.  They were uncomfortable because the sweat from our bodies condensed on the inside of the canvas.  One night at about 1 am we were awakened by an inquisitive cow nosing around us.  Although we had planned to go to Devon, the weather was bad and it rained a lot. So after only 2 nights away we cycled back in one day. When it rained we stopped under a tree; Phil would jump up and down.  He said, the effect on our circulation did us good.

A more successful tour was made the next year when Doris, Hugh and I went on a tour and put up at Y.H.A. hostels.  This time we went through Somerset to Weston-Super-Mare and followed down the coast of the Severn Estuary to Lynmouth.  This was a real test of stamina, because the climb at Porlock Hill seemed never-ending, and it was drizzling.  When we reached the Youth Hostel on Exmoor, because we arrived early in the afternoon, the landlady wouldn't allow us to go in to dry our clothes until 3.30pm.  Doris philosophically said later, "The hard effort and the difficulties were good for us because it gave us a foretaste of the wider - and harsher world!" I am sure she was right because in the family life we were in one way cocooned from the big world outside.

Some years Mummy went out to Sierra Leone to be with Daddy, for either Easter or the Christmas holidays.Two of these occasions are held in my memory - both at Easter. First, Philip, Hugh and I went to stay with Uncle Tom and Auntie Denny.  Uncle Tom was Daddy's younger brother.  They had a very nice home in Beeston, a suburb of Leeds and Auntie was quite house-proud. They had one son, Leslie, away at work during the first holiday. We would go down to the bottom of the garden, to the railway. The main LNER Express train, London to Leeds and Harrogate came along regularly and we took photos of them.  The railway officials disregarded us; a different story in these days.  We would roll up dried grass and put it in small clay pipes to smoke. There was, I think, a cousin who we got friendly with called Moira, who used to tease us in a harmless way, and we her.

A later Easter holiday, Hugh and I went by ourselves.  In their sitting room was a valuable side-board which was kept in mint condition.  One day I carelessly threw a nail cutter and it struck the side of the sideboard.  Uncle Tommy came in and when he asked who did it, I owned up.  In his broad Yorkshire accent he said, "I wouldn't be you for TEN pounds TWO"!  I felt humbled. For 2 hungry boys, the dish which delighted us most was roast beef and yorkshire pudding.  The pudding was served as a batter in the traditional Yorkshire way, followed by the beef and vegetables.  It was delicious.  When I told Rachel about it, she said that she knew of only one place where it is still served like that - a pub in Wombwell, near Brampton Bierlow.

One day I went to Huddersfield to visit one of my Limpsfield friends - Bertram Bowers.  He met me at the station on his motorcycle and I was asked to ride pillion - the first time I had ridden like this.  As he rode through the streets I was terrified and it is only by the Lord's help that I stayed on the motor cycle!

Doris' memories

David's memories

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