Wright Family Album

 Doris' memories - Templecombe 1941-1952

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As a V.A.D. in Royal Naval Hospitals in Chatham, then Seaforth, Liverpool and, from August 1943 in Durban, S.Africa, I only paid the occasional visit to the parents in Templecombe. With such a large house and garden to run they kept on a full time gardener and employed Wendy to help in the house. She was a German woman married to the local butcher and, being German, was blackballed by all in the villages. Mother took pity on her and she, being a very pleasant lady, proved a tremendous asset.

Because of such outgoings on a tiny salary they started to take in paying guests. These lived with them full time until the Rev. and Mrs Hampshire, retired missionaries, came to replace them and ‘did’ for themselves entirely, which was a great relief for the parents.

David was moved from his boarding school at Cheltenham and became a day boy at Sherborne School. Barbara moved from her farm near Wokingham to one in a village near Templecombe - still with cows. Gordon came to live at home after his discharge on health grounds from the Army. He helped people in the village with their gardens until his death.

Having been given my release from the Navy on compassionate grounds when the news of Gordon's death reached me I travelled home by train to Durban and a fast new liner, arriving back in December, 1944. From then on I took over the cooking because Mummy suffered a lot from painful ulcers in her eyes (not cured until the discovery of penicillin several years later) and a certain amount of gardening as the gardener was now only part time.

The parents’ hospitality was endless. When Eileen (De Saram) came home from the Sudan in the early summer of 1946 to have her baby she lived with us and had Hugh in the local hospital in July. When Brian arrived back he also lived with us until, in the autumn they found somewhere else to spend their furlough.

At the end of that year Phil and Yolande, with Trevor and Nick arrived home from India and they spent a year at Templecombe while Phil worked by correspondence for his Intermediate exam so that he could go on to London University to get a degree in psychology. Yolande's mother also paid visits, a large lady whom Basil nicknamed Aunt Gloria. It really suited her!  Basil and Ruth also stayed for part of their furlough. Many other relations visited for a few days. Auntie Bessie was given a permanent downstairs bedroom so then she could come and go as she pleased from Worthing where she had had to get a job as companion to some elderly lady after leaving Coombeside. She would have breakfast in bed and loved to give bed-room to two kittens which we had. These were often joined by a baby rabbit which I had been given to rear and this would lie in bliss in between the kittens flat on its back with arms and legs stretched out.

Mummy had to go to hospital twice, once for a hysterectomy and again for gall stones. She led such a busy life. Besides running the large household she was president of both the W.I. and the Mothers' Union. She loved her ladies! Then there were the chickens, the turkeys and the geese which she kept all free range, housed in the old pigsties. In another sty I kept two pigs (called Ben and Smith, after the minister of food) buying them as piglets and keeping them until large enough to be turned into bacon: one side returned to us and the rest for the general public.

Barbara who could cycle over frequently from her farm, bought two half-bred Guernsey cows, called Belinda and Pearl, which she taught me and a village boy called Leonard to milk. By mating Pearl, the younger one, with pure Guernseys she could upgrade her second generation to be pure breds and thus sell the calves at a better price. As well as the cow shed there was also a stable and Barbara also made use of that by keeping a horse - which I had to exercise as she hadn't the time! (I had learnt to ride in S.Africa). I kept bees, getting well and truly stung sometimes. Besides the farm fields and orchard there were two walled kitchen gardens, one euphemistically called the small one, (it was large by present day standards), used for growing potatoes and rhubarb and the other very large one where the soft fruit and everything else, including beetroot for the pigs, grew.

Our only really social contact in the village was with the doctor's wife, Maggie. She was very hospitable and would often invite us up, sometimes to play tennis on their court and sometimes just for a chat. I ran the Youth Club in the village until Phil and Yolande came home and took over. We thought it would help Phil's psychology practice!

Barbara was demobbed after the war and got a grant to go to Bangor University but, being rusty after so many years, failed her 1st year exam and came home to run the farm, enlarging the herd of cows, buying a pony and trap and so on. While at Bangor she had become engaged to John Williams who, as a conscientious objector, had been a forester during the war.

Barbara and John with the pony and trap

In the summer of 1947 there was a general exodus from Templecombe. Phil and Yolande found a flat in Hampstead: so that Philip could go to University College. I accompanied them because my teaching savings had run out and I had to get some sort of a job - not teaching. The first one was in the Dental Hospital in Trafalgar Square as receptionist, the second as secretary to a Hungarian lady importing tomato paste and such like, then, finally, as a reader, then secretary, in the British Standards Institution in Victoria Street. David, now starting as a medical student at St Thomas' Hospital, also lived at the flat and shared a room with another medical student. Our rents helped with P and Y's finances.

In October 1948 John and I got married from Templecombe and sailed for Nigeria soon afterwards and in December Barbara and her John also got married. Barbara continued to live there while John went for training as a Presbyterian minister at Westminster College, Cambridge.

Wedding of Doris and John Britton; and of Barbara and John Williams

In the summer of 1950 we came on leave with Erica and Tim looking like Belsen babies, making Templecombe our base. How the babies put on weight, feeding on the Guernsey fat of the land. Several months were spent in a rented house in Wimbledon, together with John's mother, while John did a sabbatical at the University. John returned to Nigeria in the Spring of 1951 and I followed him in the summer with Erica and Tim. That autumn Mummy and Daddy auctioned off a lot of the Templecombe possessions, put the rest in store and went to live with the Rev G.T.Manley in London.

Family photos: 1. Doris, Erica and Tim    2. AYBritton with Erica, Elizabeth and Tim  
1.   2.  

3. Erica putting on weight after starvation diet in Nigeria   4. Tim doing the same   5. Erica, Tim, Liz  
3.   4.    5.  

6. Doris with Tim, GWW with Erica   7. John w Tim, GWW w Erica   8. Erica 
6.   7.   8. 

9. David Barbara Liz Gill Ruth Basil AMW w Erica GWW w Tim   10. Erica Mummy Barbara Tim Liz Gill
9.   10.

Basil's memories

David's memories

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