The Lindens

From Clifford Chambers
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Photo of the Lindens please THE LINDENS

Until it was built “The Lindens” was part of the large field south of the village which stretched from the main road back to the farm track leading towards Martins Hill and it was at that special area, Miss Wlding, the new Head Teacher at the village school chose to have a house built for her father and her.

It was well known by all the villagers and, indeed by the Architect and builders, that the area Miss Wilding had bought, was known for slight flooding and damp earth. This was due to water coming down from the reservoir under Martins Hill when extra rain fell. Everyone seemed to know that this reservoir was built by the Romans taking advantage of a natural stream flowing out of a hill, to make the reservoir. They covered the whole of the reservoir with plenty of soil, and it was this massive covering of earth over the reservoir, that eventually became known as Martins Hill.

Miss Wilding made sure that the Architect and builders would do everything to protect her future house, so the ditch at the border of her garden fronting the road, was made more into a pond than a ditch.

The builders made a little bridge over the ditch, the bridge becoming part of her drive, so the water could flow along easily from the long ditch running alongside the rest of the road and under the bridge.. This ditch stretched all along the hedge bordering the road to the next field and the next and onward. From the pond, the water then ran to the drainage area under The Nashes and under the road to the ditches opposite.

From then on, that area was always safe from flooding - though sometimes after extreme rain, the pond almost came up to the level of her front garden, but never flooded over the little bridge, and into her house.

The house was a safe haven for her, away from the eyes of her pupils and certainly far away from Mrs. Cuckoo Hewins who loudly raged war verbally against her whenever she saw the Headmistress. This was because Miss Wilding had, punished her son by plunging the sharp point of her lead pencil into the head of Mrs. Cuckoo Hewins' son.

I hasten to add that Miss Wilding thought, at the time, that she was holding her pencil the right way up! But Mrs Cuckoo Hewins made sure that Miss Wilding would never forget her mistake! With The Nashes being near to hand, Miss Wilding chose to walk that way to school however muddy the path was, with Mr. James allowing her to enter the school grounds through his back garden gate to avoid any more screaming insults from Mrs. Cuckoo Hewins. Her insults were certainly heard quite clearly along the village street! Very embarrassing for this very strict Head Teacher!

After her death, from the memory of those who remembered, Ralph and Phyllis Dodd bought the house and moved in.. Ralph's home, Preston House, from childhood onwards was possibly held by two generations of Dodds, but with two sisters living there, it was time for him to move out.

The family loved The Lindens, and their son Alex, planted a walnut on the 'bank' of the pond, and now its sturdy branches tower over everyone walking along the pavement by the road, and many delight in picking the walnuts as they fall and taking them home to sample.

Alex was married with two children when his parents died, and after that, there seemed to be a whole succession of purchasers moving in, staying for a few years, then selling. But some years later, a family moved in with two young children and decided the pond was not safe for them, filled up the pond, and the length of the ditch, removed the little bridge and flattened the soil

They were still happily living in that house when in 1999 in torrential rain, water poured out of the reservoir, down Martins Hall, and the lady of the house coming down her stairs, came to a halt at the sight of dark water halfway up her stairs. Unable to find the deep ditches that they once filled, the water then spread along to the houses in The Nashes whose gardens back onto the field. Silently the water crept through the grass and borders and seeped under their back doors with the occupants finding their kitchen floors covered in the water and flowing out under their front doors.

Those living in the two bungalows there, (once called The New Rooms), found not only that they were splashing through water in their rooms, but also dirty water was filling up their toilets

It was not good – and still not good, but work has started now on digging up deep ditches and investing in water pumps. The village now has a good supply of sand-bags in various part of the village easily available for everyone to reach, and with everyone helping, flooding isn't nearly so bad as it has been, though those living very near to the River Stour – especially The Mill – accept that they will have to move their furniture up to the next storey and have a boat available to use, near their back door when the Severn Trent Authority issue a red warning..