Part 4 Memories and Chronicles

Life in Little Thurlow 1919 – 1939


I was born in July 1919 at Myrtle Cottage, which is next door to The Cock Inn, but is I believe now called Lavender Cottage. My father was Rev. F. W. Taylor, rector of Little Bradley until his death in 1929. He was also Chaplain of the Risby Institute at Kedington. His means of transport as was common in those days was his bicycle.

The Cock Inn was kept by Mr. and Mrs. John Rowlinson, and he also ran a private hire car for journeys to Haverhill and such places. I remember well one evening in the 1920s he had to go to meet a train at Haverhill and went to see if he had enough petrol in the Tin Lizzie. There was of course no petrol gauge in his car, so John took the usual means of light in those days ­ a candle ­ but as you may have guessed, while directing the light so that he could see in the petrol tank, the candle fell out of the holder into the tank and blew up the car.

Next door to the Cock Inn lived Mr. and Mrs. Tom Eley; Tom was a carpenter in business with his brother Sam, who lived the other side of us in his little cottage.


Tilbrooks at harvest

Next door lived Mr. and Mrs. Thomas and family; he worked for the Tilbrook family who lived opposite and farmed locally. I remember their stackyard was situated next door to their house at the lower end of the Street, and stacks were once set alight much to the consternation of the village, but fortunately no damage was done to property.

Next door to the Thomas’s lived Alec and Bessie Sadler who kept the Post Office. In those days Alec had to cycle to Withersfield to collect the mail, bring it home, sort it and then deliver it. Alec was a great character. He was captain of the local cricket team and I was lucky to be able to play with him and many others when I came home from school (Canterbury).

Next door Mr. Baines had his saddler’s shop but he lived further up the Street where the new Rectory is situated. The last house on this side of the street used to be the village shop kept by a Mr. Purkis, but this was closed long ago.

Little Thurlow Hall was the home of Hugh Fleming whose brother, the Rev. Basil Fleming, was the Rector of Great Thurlow. The bakery was run by Mr. Rutter. I remember that during the summer months when the two village pumps ran dry, the water for the baking was obtained from the pump in our kitchen. This well has now been covered in.

Mrs. Pemberton Barnes (a very eccentric lady) lived in the big house next to the bakery. There was also a windmill at the back, and a tennis court where father and Mr Rogers used to play. On the square lived Fred Atherton and his family before they moved to Great Thurlow opposite the church. He was the gardener to the Rev. Basil Fleming, and pumped the organ on Sundays. I believe there are many members of the family still living in the area.

There was a house called “The Limes” where Capt. Frink lived, and I believe his son the Brigadier had a house built down The Drift. In a barn at the back of the Cock Inn the villagers used to play skittles, and the noise was like thunder to us children.

We used to get our milk from the farm of the Tilbrooks in the Street. The cans were placed in the farmhouse in the morning and collected after milking in the afternoon. Skimmed milk was one penny a pint.

Going out of the village on the road to Great Bradley at the top of the hill were the Almshouses (recently converted into one dwelling). Each of these had one room accommodation and in one of them used to live a man named Tipper. He suffered from shell shock and used to get a little tipsy at times and would march down the street late at night when father would remonstrate with him, and he would then return home.

The shop at Great Thurlow was kept by Arthur Coote, helped by two ladies Miss Gussie Dowsett and Miss Page, the latter of course until recently being the organist at Great Thurlow Church. When Mr. Coote died the shop was taken on by Miss Dowsett.

When going to church at Little Bradley (this was of course before people had cars) we used to cross the meadow to Little Thurlow Church, join the road and before the river turn left across the fields to the bridge in Little Bradley and so to church. To keep the grass short in the churchyard, George Bedford, the farmer from the Hall, used to put the sheep in for a few days. They did a good job.

I have already mentioned Mrs. Pemberton Barnes ­ the house was called Mungo Lodge. Dr. Sunderland had a surgery in a small building going towards the windmill, but he was obliged to look for alternative accommodation. We had a stable and coach house and the latter was turned into two rooms for the Doctor’s use. This I believe has now reverted to the owner of Lavender Cottage.

I have said father was Chaplain at the Institute at Kedington and on Tuesdays every week he would spend the day there. On his very first visit he was conducting a service of Communion, in which the congregation did not come to the altar rail but the Sacraments were taken to them. Father took the Cup to a lady whom he did not know and she promptly drank the lot, so in future she was left until last, as he knew that she would finish the contents.

In my early days all the land in Thurlow belonged to Mr. C. F. Ryder, whose son still lives and farms at Great Bradley. I remember when Stradishall aerodrome was farm land; the first bombers that few were Handley Page Hampdens.

Opposite the bakery there lived the village boot repairer. I was fascinated to go and watch him repair boots and shoes; the smell of leather and resin was unforgettable, but I cannot remember his name. At the bottom of the Street, opposite the road leading to Carlton, is the School house; the Misses Day lived there, but the school was closed before my time.

Next door to Sam Eley’s cottage was the village blacksmith’s shop backing on to the Square. There was also a blacksmith’s shop past the entrance to the Hall where the road from Little Thurlow church joins the main road. This is now a bus shelter.

There was a butcher’s shop in Little Thurlow on the road to the church on the left hand side, but this has gone these many years. There was also one at Great Thurlow run by the Pryke family. This was opposite what is now the garage. In the family were twin ladies who used to drive in a Governess trap drawn by a Shetland pony and of course all the delivery was done by horse and trap.

The Co-op from Haverhill used to come twice a week, on Tuesdays to take the order and on Fridays to return with the goods, but many people used to cycle into Haverhill.

One of the great sights was the Newmarket and Thurlow Foxhounds, going by from their kennels on the left hand side of the road past Dark Lane which leads to Little Bradley church. There was also a roundhouse at the top of this lane but this has since disappeared.