Pear Tree Cottage - Nos 9, 10, 11
THE TENANTS OF PEAR TREE COTTAGE consisted of nos 11, 10 and 9 and we will start at no. 11 GEORGE WOODFIELD and his son MAURICE
NOW TO THE TENANTS OF NO. 10 PEAR TREE COTTAGE
These 3 cottages were always referred to just as Pear Tree Cottage and, in the days before all the houses were numbered, the postman always knew which house to deliver the mail to!
A large pear tree grew at the front of the middle house No. 10 right in the middle and there was a circle of soil for many years after the pear tree came down, enclosed in a stone kerb where the tree used to stand.
In the early days of Pear Tree Cottage row of cottages, the Robbins family lived here, William and Marguerita (in her old age always referred to as Granny Robbins by the villagers). William was a tall thin man whose beard changed to snowy white as he became older. He was then never seen out without his trilby.
Photo: Village Family: Robbins Family: Granny Robbins
Marguerita developed hearing problems triggered off when she fell badly down some stairs. Her deafness was severe, forcing her to lip read, but her grand-daughter always remembered her as cheerful; always wanting to meet and talk to people, and if they didn't come to her, she went out to meet them - usually at the Pub.
The couple had - amazingly - 13 children in a three-bedroomed house. Fortunately two of the bedrooms were large enough to put a curtain across making them the proud tenants of a five bedroomed house! The 13 children didn't have to live in the house altogether. For a start, by the time the ninth child was born, William, the oldest, had not only married, but had had a child.
William Senior worked for Colonel Rees-Mogg as shepherd, and as work started early, he went to bed every night at 9.00pm leaving his energetic wife to socialise with her friends at the Pub. William always had his set place to sit at home - a comfortable wooden chair by the dresser where his pipe would be waiting for him,. And after his meal, he would sit quietly, puffing at his pipe until the clock struck 9.00pm Then he would knock out the red embers from his pipe, lay it back on the dresser and go upstairs to bed - regular as clock work.
Photo:Village Family: Robbins Family: Grandad Robbins
They allotted one of their downstairs rooms for one of their sons George, who needed somewhere to live with his bride, Trixie Sylvester, and George and Trixie were still living there in the downstairs room when their oldest son Keith was born. It was distressing for them, for Keith had a disfigurement at birth, leaving him with a large head with a lump on one side. As he grew, they knew he would be having learning difficulties. Granny Robbins blamed it all on a horror movie Trixie had seen at Stratford Cinema the night before Keith's birth!
Photo:Village Family: Robbins Family: George and Trixie Robbins
William died in 1936, and Granny was alone, with all her children now married and living elsewhere. A large family was needing a house with more space, so Granny Robbins had to move to the tiny cottage in The Square No. 25, to make room for the Barr family.
Paddy Barr was a delightful Irish man who not only had a great sense of humour, but also had the sense to marry a lady who also was Irish with the same sort of humour, so a lot of laughter was heard from that house with many of their friends joining in. Where Paddy was very thin, his wife was very short and dumpy, but both good company to have around.
Paddy looked after the mule belonging to Col. Rees-Mogg.
After Paddy Barr came a Miss Smith but it is not certain when she arrived and whether this was before the sale of the Manor Estate.
Then disaster struck!
George Woodfield felt his house needed a good coat of pain – particularly all the exterior wood, and he asked Ralph Dodd to undertake this work. Ralph arrived with all he needed and brought with him his young apprentice, Eric Greenway.
They started at the top of the house – the wood near to the gutter. Ralph produced his blow lamp and began to burn off the paint there. Unfortunately a strong gust of wind caught the small flame from the blow lamp enlarging it into a dagger of fire straight onto the roofing felt there. The wind blew the flame in a rush along the felt to the next house and the house beyond. The smouldering roofing felt on George's roof, became a nasty smell – but nothing more. However the flames in the roofing felt at No.10 was encouraged by the wind to spread all over the roof to the other side. It also spread to the next house, No. 9. But it was No. 10 that suffered the most.
By now, it was lunch-time when the village children were coming out of the school to have their lunch at home. The Salmon children knew their mother, Phyllis, would be cleaning at Seth Smith's house and, as usual on that day of the week, were coming up to meet her.
Meanwhile Phyllis looked in horror from Seth's front windows as the sheet of fire enlarged and roared – and black smoke filled the sky above. She went out to join her children and they stood inside Seth's gate and watched the two fire-engines arrive and the firemen tackle the blaze.
No. 10 was not a 'write off – though it looked like it to begin with – and No. 9 although very blackened with smoke looked as if, with a lot of cleaning, might be liveable again.
It was said that the shock of that fire caused Ralph Dodd's slight stiffness very quickly to turn into severe arthritis. In a short while he was walking with a stick unable to climb up ladders any more – and by the time I arrived in the village, he needed two sticks to move along, and his walking movements were very, very slow.
I would imagine Miss Smith had to find somewhere else to live in, for the house was badly damaged.
Eventually No. 10 was sold to Eric and Joyce Taylor who moved in with their young son David. Both Eric and Joyce worked “on the buses”, but while David was still attending the village school, it became noticeable that his mother was not around.
Rumour spread around the village that it was another man working on the buses who attracted Joyce. What was fact was that, from then onward, Eric was in sole charge of his young son, helping him with school work; encouraging him in hobbies; taking him to places, and everyone admired how he tackled being sole wage-earner, caring 'mother' and responsible father all at the same time.
It was many years before Eric dared trust a woman again, and the villagers were delighted when he married Mary, a relative of the Rolls family who had visited the family many times throughout the years, and finally Eric was able to trust again.
By the time they married, David had gone through Secondary School and was working; eventually marrying and, a few years later giving both Eric and Mary the delight of becoming grandparents. As Eric and Mary reached the age of senior citizenship, they moved to Alcester where shops, surgeries and Church were within walking distance of their home.
THE TENANTS OF NO. 9 PEAR TREE COTTAGE
Maurice Woodfield could remember the Head Cowman, Mr. Allen, working at the Manor under his father, living as tenant, at No. 9.
As these houses were built by Mrs. Rees-Mogg solely for her workers, it meant, in the case of Mr. Allen that he was not only living near his employer, but almost on the doorstep of his boss! No escape from work – not even at weekends. But as far as I know, there was no trouble.
Mr. Allen had twin sons, and in the photo of the fancy dress competition held to Celebrate our Queen's coronation, Mrs. Allen had made for them both, guards outfits for this competition – complete with bearskins and rifles, and she, or her husband taught them how to stand to attention as guards of Buckingham Palace.
When he changed his employment to elsewhere, Jimmy Carr, an Irishman came. He replaced Mr. Allen as Head Cowman. He brought with him his family, but one of his children was missing. Diphtheria had been his killer, and he was too small to survive the illness. The family left when the Manor Estate was sold, seeking employment elsewhere. l Two teachers bought No. 9 at the sale, and moved in. Miss Edwards was a retired teacher; Miss Hodgson came as the new Head Teacher of the village school.
Miss Hodgson was, of course, at the school when fire broke out first at No. 11 then rapidly spreading to No. 10. News would soon have reached her, and I would imagine the children and books would have been left, as she rushed along the village street in her concern over Miss Edwards. But the fire engines arrived quickly, and although the work to be done on their house was extensive, they stayed in the village, moving back into the house as soon as they could.
When Miss Hodgson retired, the two ex-teachers sold No. 9 and moved for complete retirement, to Wales. The house was bought by Dick and Pauline Ullyatt, and the house they had been living in, No. 34 was sold to the new Headteacher, Miss Baker.
George Woodfield was head-hunted when a young man – but as this happened soon after the 1st World War, that expression was definitely not used to describe enticing a young man to leave his job for a larger salaried job – for these were the days of The British Empire when 'head-hunters' referred to something slightly different!
George had been wounded in the shoulder during that war. He was part of the unit of Coldstream Guards. The sniper who shot at him was on the top of a Church tower at Ypres, and caught George in the shoulder, as he left the trenches. He wasn't far away from his friends, but it was 8 o-clock in the morning – full daylight, and it was risky to rescue him with those snipers on the Tower.
One soldier was bravely willing to have a go, for the men could see George moving, and hear his groans of pain. But the snipers were ready, and the volunteer soldier slumped down by George, was killed instantly. George was bleeding badly, but after that, he had to stay still and quiet – pretending to be dead also. When night fell at 6.00pm, his friends tried again and this time were able to carry him away on a stretcher. From there, he was placed on a barge and eventually finished up in Sheffield Hospital.
George was a farmer's son, his family working a farm at Nottingham, Derby, and Gnosall in Staffordshire.
It was 1929 when he arrived in Clifford Chambers from Maidenhead where he had been working for a farmer who had made his fortune from his Mill in Lancashire and chose Maidenhead to pursue his love of farming. George had been 'poached' by Mrs. Douty, for, by this time, George was being known nationally as a specialist in showing cattle at Agriculture Shows.
With no house available for him, Mrs. Douty arranged for him to board at one of the houses she had especially built for her staff in 1924, designed by Lutyens on her instructions 'to resemble a little of the Manor architecture'. Cyril Green and his wife (who told me once that she was the Cook at the Manor when she met Cyril) were living there with a bedroom to spare, and this is where George lodged.
When one of her tenants moved out of the end house of Pear Tree Cottage, Mrs. Douty handed George the key and told him this house was his. By this time George had fallen for a girl in the village with beautiful glowing auburn long hair, one of the Hewins girls, and had married her. Their oldest son Maurice arrived, and later they had another son, Brian.
Maurice could remember vividly the building of our Jubilee Hall He had been given a little blue pedal car and he peddled up and down the village street all those months watching the builders – and Maurice says there was a swarm of them, definitely not just one or two! The scaffolding was composed of strong wooden poles, pushed into barrels containing hard sand.
George by now was the top cattle handler of the nation, and he knew just how to stand a bull, or cow for a show just by pressing his foot in the back of its hock. And, of course, he knew just how to hold them in that position. He was in such popular demand that sometimes Col Rees-Mogg (for Mrs. Douty had re-married by now) 'lent' him to other owners needing to show their cattle.
Maurice often accompanied him when it wasn't 'school time'. He remembers that the last Royal Show before the 2nd World War was at Windsor Great Park. After the War, it was in Lincoln; the following year after that at Shrewsbury.
Some few years ago, Maurice was watching on T.V. a programme he thinks was entitled “All Their Yester-Years” Suddenly he was seeing his father on the screen, for they were showing a newsreel of an Oxfordshire County Show of years back, showing the bull 'CLIFFORDCHAMBERS MAX' (who won every show year after year), with George holding him firmly.
When the Rees-Mogg's died and the Estate was sold, it was then that Maurice saw his Dad cry as the cattle he loved so much were taken away to be sold. George pottered around doing this and that for about a year - until his Doctor told him to get another job.
Mr. Pat Barratt came to the rescue – though I think it was Mrs. Barratt who suggested it. Mrs.Saville (owner of Saville Tractors where Pat Barratt worked) had been persuaded to approach George “for” declared Mrs. Barratt, “if you have him, you will have the Best Manager of all the herds of the Country”. So she took George on.
She owned a herd of Jersey cows and George showed them to great advantage, but was also asked by many people to look for good cattle to buy for them – one of them being from the Soviet Union.
photo George Woodfield by kind permission of the Birthplace Trust!
George was approached by one or two Embassies as well as Dukes and other Titled Land owners, all to ask George to find and buy for them good stock.
“And here” Maurice told me, “The Academics stepped in with all their knowledge they picked up at the Royal Colleges of Agricultural!” When George scoffed at their choice, the owners would explain, “Well they have all the credentials!” George's only comment was, “You sack the Academics; shoot the cattle they persuaded you to buy – and start again if you want to have show cattle!”
Meeting and working for titled people, made George a little cautious over taking Maurice along with him, so he tested him out. “Now”, he said to his son, “If we meet a Duke, what will you call him?” “Your Grace!” said Maurice promptly. “And if you meet a Lord?” “Your Lordship!” said Maurice, but only received a reply from his Dad “You've got something right this time!”
George and his wife left the village in 1982 to live in Stratford.. It took a long time for George to adapt to town life, but in the end, he enjoyed his last years there.
When he left, Maurice moved into the home he was born and raised in. He had attended the village school and then Hugh Clopton, but early in his school years, he had caught T.B. and for two yeas lived with his grandfather at Gnosall. It was his grandfather, (George's Dad) who gave Maurice the love of gardening. But although Maurice spent the two years learning the art of gardening and enjoying seeing plants grow, he didn't advance in any other education. He lost two years of school learning as a result.
He left school at the age of 14, and on his marriage moved out of his old home and into Stratford, and from then on, until he took over the house when his Dad and Mum left, he lost contact with so many people. When he returned, all those around him were strangers. He carried on working for a while, but when he eventually retired, he threw himself into his great love – gardening – in particular, delphiniums, lupins, and carnations.
This had already started during weekends, when his father bought from Walter Radbourne, the orchards at the back of the garden at No. 11 and gave the land over to his sons. Brian kept pigeons. Maurice built greenhouses and worked in them whenever he could. Brian became intrigued also in joining in with Maurice in developing their own product of lupins and delphiniums and both began attending shows – especially Chelsea Flower Shows.
Prizes began adorning their Greenhouses; the Press began to realise that they had in Stratford Area two gardeners who were making News in Chelsea. And at last, there was a Gold Award presented to them for their own flower. Many more came along each year – more Gold Awards. More flowers. And when the Royal Mail decided to celebrate the Chelsea Flower Show with a set of stamps – there was Maurice's 'Delphinium Clifford Sky' stamp costing 68p each on millions of envelopes travelling about the land!
Photo: Miscellaneous Photos:The Woodfield stamp
CLIFFORD CHAMBERS HERD
from the British Friesian Journey
This is from a magazine loaned to me by Maurice Woodfield showing a photo of him as a young man in charge of the cow CLIFFORDCHAMBERS ROSA that his father was showing at a show.
”The aim is to breed well fleshed animals of good Type Beauty and Butterfat.
Every milking female to complete a lactation has qualified R.M. and 55% are prize winners; the remainder with one exception are either daughters or grand daughters of prize-winners
LATHALMOND ROSA 270866
Winner of many Championships and 1st prizes has given
Three 2,000 gallon yields (one at 4% B.F.) and in her latest lactation she has given 1,830 gallons,B.F.365 days, 12 test, 7th calf
CHIEF STOCK BULL CLIFFORDCHAMBERS WINSTON 124653 is out of Lathalmond Rosa and by Cliffordchambers Uncle 83073
We have entered for the Society's forthcoming Show and Sale on 1st and 2nd November the butterfat bull CLIFFORDCHAMBERS ROLANDA by Cliffordchambers Winston and out of Curbridge Wanda that has given:-
3rd Calf 17,245 and a half lbs milk 4.16% B.F. 365 days - 8 tests 4th Calf 14,912 and a quarter lbs milk 4.35% B.F. 365 days - 11 tests
THE HON. E. R. H. WILLS Clifford Manor, Stratford-on-Avon
Phone STRATFORD-ON-AVON 2616”