Description of Stoke Abbott in 1895 by Frederick Swaffield
Transcription Copyright Stephen Jones 2000,
from the original volume held by Dorset Record Office, Reference D.459/1
Page created on 01 May 2000
Please note that I do not have any connections with Stoke Abbott or the Swaffield family. If you wish to find out more about Stoke Abbott and it's families, a good place to start is the Dorset genealogy mailing list.
Mr Frederick Swaffield was one of a large family who came to live in the New Inn, Stoke Abbott in 1895 when he was aged 7. He worked for many years as a carter for Mr Edward Smith at Lower Farm. He moved to Portland in 1924 to work in the quarries but returned to the village for a few years before his death, which occurred in Dorchester Hospital in 1963.
Stoke Abbott is a parish of West Dorset
About the original document
Fred Swaffield's recollections are written in his own hand in a ruled exercise book. The archive catalogue entry states that it was probably written before 1924. Dates of specific events mentioned by Fred Swaffield suggest that it might have been completed in the late 1930s. The recollections include the oral history gathered from older residents of Stoke Abbott (probably between 1895 and 1924) - much of which relates to the late 19th century.
About the transcription
This work was started as part of an Open University assignment on Family and Community History (DA301). The assignment provided information on the experiences of living and working in Stoke Abbott in the late 19th century. The main feature of this period was the decline of the cottage industries and agriculture associated with flax and hemp.
The transcription is, as far as possible, faithful to the original. The phonetic spelling has not been changed - this was used by Fred Swaffield to convey an impression of the local dialect. The only change is that, to improve readability, additional punctuation and paragraphs have been introduced. Other additions are indicated by the use of italics (paragraph headings, lists of names and the meaning of some words).
List of surnames - not compiled yet. The transcription includes the names of people living in Stoke Abbott in 1895. Use your browser's "find" facility to search for surnames.
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Description of Stoke Abbott in 1895 by Frederick Swaffield
Transcription Copyright Stephen Jones 2000,
from the original volume held by Dorset Record Office, Reference D.459/1
[Date of writing not known, but probably before 1924]
Separate loose sheet inside document
Narrative of life in Stoke Abbott 1895-1924
Mr Frederick Swaffield, one of a large family of whom two members still live in the village, Mrs Clarke and Mrs Jones, came to live in the New Inn in 1895 at the age of 7.
He worked for many years, as a carter, for Mr Edward Smith, at Lower Farm. He lived at Elen Cottage, but moved to Portland in 1924. He returned to the village for a few years before his death, which occurred in Dorchester Hospital in 1963.
Names of the people living in Stoke Abbott in 1895
At Horsehill Farm
Mr and Mrs Fred Wakely
At Horsehill Mill
Mr and Mrs Garrett
Left side starting at Horsehill
George Travers and his wife
Job Forsey and his wife
Job Elliott and his wife
Charles Canterbury and his wife
Old Mary Norris
Old Jane Davy
Steve Hawkins and his wife
George Ivory and his wife
Old Mrs Elliott
John Canterbury and his wife
Levi Bartlett and his wife
John Harris and his wife; also Jim Staple
Jim Meech and his wife
John Swaffield and his wife
Tom Swaffield and his wife
Levi Ackerman and his wife
Eve Slade and her son Harry
Lizzie Ackerman and her son George
Harriett Hallett, Arthur Hann and Mary Ann
Studley and Harry Bartlett
Ann Hann, Charl and Bess, son and daughter
Mrs Moores Ted and Rose, son and daughter
Mr Hawkes and Mrs Rice
Vale Ivory and his wife
Old Mrs Galpin, Charl, Matt and Polly, daughter and sons
Mr and Mrs Vidal (Rector)
Old Mrs Honeybun, Edith and Loui, daughters
Dave Staples and his wife
Mr Woolmington and his wife
All these lived on the left hand side coming from Horsehill
John Davy and his wife
Eli Watts and his wife
Old Miss Bussell
John Hann and his wife
Old Mary Wakely
Mr John Bowditch and his wife
Mr Henry Smith and his wife
Harry Wakely and wife
John Anning and Mrs Dyer
Right hand side of Village
Frank Meech and wife
Old Mary Hallett
Miss Smith and Miss Udal
Jim Northover and wife
Mr Chilcott and wife
Up Norway Lane
Jim Wakely and his wife
Charl Hallett and his wife
Jim Scadden and his wife
Jack Hitchcock and his wife
Sam Oliver and his wife; also son Jack
George Perry and his wife
George Russell and his wife
Dairyman Howe and his wife
John Weaver and his wife at Lewesdon Cottage
Bucks Hedd and Coombe and Brimley
Jim Lansom and wife
Bob Guppy and wife
Mr Couch and wife
Jim Staple and wife
Job Hussey and wife
Jim Bishop and wife
Mr and Mrs Hecks
Sam Rendell and his wife
Charl Way and wife
George Edwards and wife
John Norris and wife; also son Will
Shepherd Gerrard and wife
Shepherd Barnes and wife
At Blackney Venn, Monwood, Glitney Yard
Mr and Mrs Pavey, also Ben Bussell and sister
George Lancshire and wife
Old George Cook
Mr and Mrs Cox
Mr Orchards and brother and sister
Old Richards and two sons
Mr Grinter and wife
Mr Huxter and wife
Mr Lenthall and wife
Introduction by Fred Swaffield
The object I have in writing about the village of Stoke Abbott is to keep alive the memory of Stoke and the people who lived there since I can remember and who lived there and I shall give a list of their names. They are nearly all gone now except some of the younger ones. I shall describe a little about most of the old folk and their ways and the funny things that they used to tell of in their broad Dorset. Living in a public house as I did I used to hear a lot of what the older men used to tell of and what the parish was like in their young days.
"Bread and cheese and cider"
There werent many teetolars (teetotallers) those days men were allowed cider in their work and most of them did go in the cellars and draw their own. The older men seemed rougher than they are now. They could tackle a lot of cider - it would hardly be believed now how much they could stand. Still you say they were brought up on bread and cheese and cider. Some of the women who worked on the farms could drink a quart of cider as well as a man.
"Trees and orchards"
John Canterbury - Mr Edward Smith - Mr Woolmington
When we came to Stoke from Bridport to live at the New Inn I was seven years old. It was in the month of May and the village was one mass of apple blossom - it was a real picture. There is nothing like as many apple trees as there used to be. So many have fallen down and never been replaced. In a lot of the fields there used to be apple trees - I expect the remnants of orchards. Horsehill Orchard used to be full of trees - several at the bottom of Broadclothes, up in Overhay and the bottom of Lousley.
Stoke used to be a pretty village, so many trees have been cut down through the street. There were several very high sweetnut trees up by Viel Style by the chapel. Go the sweetnuts we boys used to have! At the end of the reading room used to be a lovely big chestnut tree. When he was out in blossom it was a beautiful sight. I believe it was Mr Edward Smith who said he would rather have given a sovereign than it should have been cut down. All around the church were a lot of beech trees a good bit higher that the tower. There used to be a beautiful red may tree on the end of Court Orchard overright the horse trough. The high bank belonging to the mount was covered with apple trees - they used to hang right down over the shoot and the river. When Mr Woolmington used to gather them in the autumn theyed shake the trees and the street was covered with apples as they rolled down over where Mr Smiths big loft and cowstalls are. The Orchard used to come right against the road and overright John Canterburys used to be several big sweetnuts trees. Just where you go up in Anchor plot and in the back by the side of the allottments down Elwell Road used to be two or three big oak trees. About the fields and hedges hundreds of trees of different sorts have been thrown. Several big oaks have been cut down. At the bottom of Broadclothes used to be a big elm. At the bottom of Woods Lane and down at Brimley Mill there was a very high ash tree and straight just after you go through the clap gate by the footpath to go to Bowood.
Admiral Fox - Mr Smith
There are not so many houses as there used to be - a lot have been burned down or fallen to pieces. One used to be at the top of the allottments - that one on high ground opposite Admiral Fox. Chartnoll carters lived there at one time. Two used to be at the bottom of Masons lane - they fell to pieces. A long flight of steps used to lead up to them from the road. Two at the bottom of Broadclothes and they were pulled down when Mr Smiths new cowstalls were built. Just inside of Pounds Orchard gate used to be a big barn where the Laurels are used to be three houses.
"It was a night all hands on the pump"
Overright the horse trough used to be two up in the little garden. They were burnt down one night. When they were alight Beaminster fire brigade came over - it was a night all hands on the pump and the horse trough was empty in a few moments and then the fire did gain up again. There was nearly as much beer and cider drunk that night as water used. One man that lived close to the house that was burnt was at the New Inn sat by the fire when his wife came running in:
"Yer" she said, "come on whoam."
"Wa far?""Well they houses be avire just above." "Well wast that da do wi I?""Well look sharp an come on." "Well I cant help it can I? Wast thee spect I da go up an dout ern then. Let Georgie come down an dout ern heself.""Well be you coming on. I never seed a fellar take anything so cool in me life sit there so comfortable with a house avire a few yards from his own." "I see thest spect I to gid up on the roof and keep the sparks off. Doesn I should have all the blooming parish looking at me instead of the vire. I can seen myself sot up there wi me legs hanging down over each side wi a bucket of wader in each hand waiting var the house da catch vire. I should be in a nice place if did catch vire, theyed think twas a blooming cockspar up there ur tomtit."
"More old houses"
Molly Brown - Mr Hawkes - Jim Scadden - Harry Slade - Mr Smith - Uncle Tom (Swaffield) - John Weaver
Down Butts were one on the right hand side as you go up Butts Lane. Two up at Molly Browns just by Viel Style they were burnt down. Where Mr Smiths dairy is - that was burnt down but rebuilt. It was a big rambling place very old - I should think three or four hundred years old. Up Norway Lane were several - just above Mr Hawkes was one where Jim Scadden lived, two more just above all falling down, one just at the top of the little (word missing). Just before you come out in the big lane up Lewesdon Lane was another. Nearly all were thatched roofs and parts of the wall were mud walls. Two more where the footpath enters the road from Whatcombe and at Green Lane was two more.
My old Uncle Tom has told me of nearly forty others that stood in different part of the parish. I believe he told me there were four where the school now stands, several up Green Lane, two down Butts Buddle - that is down the bottom of Dark Orchard - one up in Crates Down, two nearly at the top of Anchor Lane, two down Elwell Road nearly out Horsehill Lane.
Old Harry Slade told me that there was one in Moneys Crate and part of the field was an orchard. There was a house and a little orchard at the top of the allotments. I know there is a well under the allotment I used to have. Old John Weaver told me there used to be one down Langhans Water just by that little copse at the bottom of Long Moon. There was another up Netherbury - what they call Ocombes Bay. Two or three more opposite Court Orchard. On the end of the reading room where the church room stands was two or three more.
"In those days agriculture was very flourishing"
In those days agriculture was very flourishing. A lot of fields in the parish are now sown down. The fields all used to seem full of corn and sheep and cows and flax. Now there is very little corn grown and not half the sheep kept. They seemed to be threshing all the winter on one or other of the farms. It doesnt last very long now. There used to be a lot of flax grown and I have heard of the old men say that years before "Any amount of vlex was growed".
Most of the corn was cut by sythes except the wheat which was cut by the old reaper or trapper. One man did sit on the seat with a rake and when he had enough for a sheaf he did rake it from the rack and men did tie it up by hand. That was before binders came out.
The flax work was done on the old-fashioned system. A lot of men were employed at it. When flax pulling began they used to carry a horn with them and you could hear them blowing all day long. I suppose it was a very old custom. Also they carried horns to drink thire cider from. When one lot say up in six yards were pulling. When they stopped to drink they blew the horn, then you would hear one answer - perhaps from Bowood or down Bar Lane or another from Coombe.
When the flax was fit they used to stamp the seed out of it with wooden beadles then they spread it on the ground till it gets a certain colour. Then they put it in a rick and in the winter they used to work it. They dried several shoats overnight over a fire of skimps. Next morning they put it through a break to crush it. Then they take a handful and put it across a board and with a swingle knock all the skimps out of it. The waste is called tow and the best of it used to be sent to the factory to be spun into linen. It was a very dusty job but they had plenty of cider to wash it down and they wole vlex dressers could swaller et.
Once down in one of the Laverstock fields I had to go down there and they had a barrel of cider in the field and there they sat all around it comfortable enough. Most of the work was done piece work. Nearly all the old flax men are gone. There used to be plenty of work in the winter for the men in the winter - flax dressing and redrawing in the barns. Now it is all done by machinery. There are very few men employed in agriculture now.
"Horses, blacksmiths and carpenters"
Stoke used to be alive with men, horses, blacksmiths and carpenters. I sometimes wonder what they used to do. Now there is nothing - no blacksmiths, wheelwrights, very few horses and men. There used to be a great number of men and boys employed on the farms. I have seen as many as forty or fifty turn out from the two pubs of a Saturday night. When they seemed to gather together from Laverstock, Brimley, Stoke Knapps and Bucks Head like a great family and discuss the weeks work. It was very interesting - they used to take such interest in their work. Blacksmiths, carpenters, carters, shepherds, cowmen, hurdlemakers, flaxdressers, rabbit catchers, farmers and all. What yarns we used to hear if a carter had ploughed a field with crooked furrows or a labourer had sown a field casty. There was something going on but generally everybody was good tempered, though sometimes I have seen amongst older men a few rows. They would have a few words and soon up vist. Then they wanted Wakely to fetch his `cordian, then they would dance the four handed reel and didnt their clamps sound on the kitchen floor.
"Sunday morning in the village"
Since I have grown up and look back on the old days village life seems full of beauty. People were poor but everybody seemed happy and everybody at work. How I can picture a beautiful Sunday morning in the village just before church. Coming across Broadclothes you would see Mr Henry Smith and his family and then you would see Miss Emily Smith, a sister of Mr H Smith, and Miss Udal coming out of Lower House all making their way to church at the other end of the village. You would see Mr Bowditch and Mrs Bowditch, Mr Hecks from Brimley, Mr Pavey and wife from Blackney, Miss Bussell, Miss Couch from Combe, Mr Lenthall from Blackney, Old Jim Meech and Martha, Old Levi Bartlett and Harry all making their way to church. Old Mrs Moores Rose, her daughter, used to play the organ. John Hann the sexton, then all the children from Sunday School and with their teachers Miss Lily and Mary Smith. Then Mr and Mrs Vidal with their servants and three or four students, then the ringers.
Regular the bells used to ring then - used to be six ringers: John Canterbury, George Wakely, Frank Meech, George Bartlett, Harry Bartlett and Levi Bartlett. Old Levi rang the fifth and another used to help pull as the bell went very hard.
"School treat and string band"
George Ackerman - Bert Davy - Will Hann - Tom Henley - Ted Moores - Will Vickery - George Wakely - Dick Woolmington
I remember we was invited to Chartnoll farm to a school treat by our teachers. Go and didnt we have a good time. The tables were loaded with cakes we fernear busted. We played all sorts of games - we had a splendid time and it was dark as a dungeon when we came down through Masons Lane at night. Stoke used to have a string band at that time. The bandsmen were Will Vickery, Dick Woolmington, Ted Moores, Tom Henley, Will Hann, Bert Davy, George Ackerman and George Wakely. When they used to play at night in the street in the winter we boys used to hold up candles and lanterns for them and then the wind would blow out the lights - it was rare fun then.
"Queen Victoria Jubilee"
Harry Bartlett - Vale Ivory - Mr Smith
We had a grand day Queen Victoria Jubilee. The band rode in on one of Mr Smiths farm waggons all through the village. Harry Bartlett drove them - he had old Smiler. Harry was sat up in front smoking away and every now and again he did smack his whip and the horse did jump and nearly jerk the band off their seats. Then Harry did turn round and say to them playing the fiddles "Come on scrape it out bide there a scratching at en" and then to the flute player "Why doesn en blow in the thing - pon me soul I cant yer what theet playing a bide there a spitting in en. All thee breaf ull be gone directly than theet want some more cider." Then Harry would gie em another jerk. All the men were in procession behind and all fairly well oiled. "It was a going on" Vale Ivory said. "He never yerd ner zeed nuffin like et in all his puff".
Mr Bowditch - George Canterbury - Dick Day - Jimmy Lansom - Edward Smith - Tom Swaffield - Mr Trump - Mr H Weaver - Fred Winter
What times the people used to have at Stoke Club - it was far livelier than it is now. They used to have barrels of beer down in the corners of the passons lawn and the farmers used to treat their men and have a proper good time together. The lawn was full of people dancing the old fashioned dances. George Canterbury got hold of somebody's perambulator and started dancing round with it and then all at once he jumped up into it and Jimmy Lansom wheeled him all about the lawn - all in and out the dancers. Two growed up fellers too!
Somebody challenged Tom Swaffield that he wodn sa spry as he used to was. Tom was getting on for seventy. He chucked down his stick and started climbing a tree. When he got someway up, the limb broke. Down comes Tom, limb and all, right down across the tables - upset all the cups and glasses beer all over the place. Poor Tom had a nasty jar. Then there was Old Dick Day from Beaminster he used to go to all the fairs and clubs selling nuts. He used to come to our club with a big basket full. Somebody would give him so much money and he would throw the nuts all over the lawn. There was a rare scrabble for the children.
The pubs were full of people singing and dancing, accordians and tambourines playing. In front of the Anchor was several standings. In the New Inn yard swingboats and different amusements. Old Fred Winter always had a standing there from Beaminster. Mr Trump used to be a caterer at one time and then Mr H Weaver of Beaminster. Mr Edward Smith used to do a great deal towards making our club a success. We used to get a good number of visitors. A lot of the men didn't do much work the day after club - it was very lively on the Saturday. Of course the pubs were open all day then. I could tell of some lively goings on.
A lot of the visitors came with horse and trap then Mr Bowditch stables and Mr Smith's and the New Inn were filled with horses - not many motors about then. Mr Smith used to invite his friends to his house after the club was over. He had a sort of groom chap who had to shut in the horses as the visitors went. As it had been a very hot day he was overcome by the heat and had to go to bed before ten o'clock. Next morning Mr Smith said "Fine fellar cant trust thee to shut the horses last night. Had to hire somebody else to do it. Good morning Sir, I should think tiz".
"Mr Henry Smith at Chartnoll"
Mr Howe - Edward Smith - Henry Smith
Mr Henry Smith used to live at Chartnoll - that was Mr Edward Smith's father. He used to have a lot of land. He also had Lower House Farm and Stoke Knapps Farm that is now all belonged to Chartnoll Farm. He used to keep a big diary at Stoke Knapps. Mr Howe was his dairyman at that time. He used to employ a great number of men and boys and he kept a lot of horses. He used to plough a lot of land and grow a lot of corn - also he kept a big flock of horn sheep. I remember seeing all big Langlands to corn and when they hauled it they came in the gate under the limekiln with the empty waggons and loaded them as they came down over. I also saw a good crop of potatoes in the same field. Mr Howe had a wonderful crop there. Howe hired father to help dig them with him. I and his dairy chap picked them up and it was a very hot day and I fetched more than one jarful that day.
All the men had a patch of potato ground those days which they were allowed in their agreement. The fields seem full of cattle and men were at work all over the place. What a difference on the land today. He seemed to have a small army at work in haymaking and harvest. A lot of the people used to go leazing or picking up the ears of wheat that were left behind and they took it to the mill to be ground into flour.
"We used to go bird starving"
George Ivory - Mr Smith - Jim Seal - Fred Swaffield
We used to go bird starving those days after the fields were sown. Horsehill and Chartnoll was sown to barley also Elvoll. George Ivory had to look after Elvoll and I Horsehill Chartnoll. There used to be a big gap between the two fields just above Smacombe. We trod down more ground each side of the gap than we done good in keeping off the birds. We had it like a road where we used to play about. Mr Smith did not like to see his ground trod like a road more did any farmers then. They used to value their land then and hack up all the corners of the field and sow them where the ploughs could not go. So we were hoping Mr Smith would not pay us a visit. He only came once. We was lied down under hedge in Horsehill Chartnoll. When I looked up through the gap and saw him coming through from Fursehill straight to us so I said to George "I going up across my field yers Mr Smith coming theest bedder gid on down cross Elvoll". However he collared George fore he started off:
"What be you doing here?"
"Bird starving" says George."Whose thism boy up there?" "Fred Swaful Sir""Was he doing yer?" "Bird starving Sir""Who sent he yer?" "Mr Edward Sir""What! Two boys for two fields side by side. Look how you be treading the ground all around yer. I never seen nothing like it"
He came across Horsehill Chartnoll. I was about halfway up - the farther he came the farther I got towards Woods Lane. Now we didn't like Woods Lane - fact I had never been to the top of the field, tho there were rooks up there, because the men used to tell us that o where they caught Jim Seal the man that murdered the maid up Anchor Lane and that his ghost had been seen there since. I got nearly against the lane when he turned and when down through Smacombe - wasn't I glad.
The same year after harvest I went pig keeping in the same fields. I had to look after a beautiful white sow and 9 or ten young ones from Lower House. There used to be two big black sows from Chartnoll and I had all my time cut out out to keep them from fighting my sow and keep them off the barley ricks of which there were two splendid great ricks at the bottom of Elvoll. Sometimes I had to go up Netherbury Lane with my pigs in the cornfields up there.
"Oat cutting and rabbit catching"
Mr W Smith
Once in one of the fields they was cutting oats with the old trapper. Mr W Smith was sheaving it out and men and women tied it behind - no binders then at least not in our district. We caught up seventy rabbits and Mr Smith parted them up amongst his work people, boys and all - he gave me two. Mr Smith was also church warden but if he could do any good for anybody or for the parish he would do it. We boys didn't have to stand in the grass outside the church door else that great crooked stick that he used to carry would go to work.
"Stoke farms and farmers"
Willie Elliott - Mr House - Albert Slade - Mr W Smith - Mr Sparrow - Fred Swaffield - Jack Tolley - Robert Tolley - Mr Tuck - Fred Wakely
After Mr Smith died, Mr Robert Tolley from Scarborough took the farm. After Mr Tolley died Chartnoll Farm was sold. Mr Jack Tolley bought the Stoke Knapps part and Mr Sparrow bought Chartnoll.
Mr F Wakely used to live at Horsehill Farm - the farm was bigger than it is now. String and Thorn used to belong to it also he had some fields down Lackhills. Mr Wakely sold out at Horsehill and had the job of Road Surveyor which he held for a great number of years. He lived where Admiral Fox lives now. He still kept a few cows and pigs - the place was really like a small farm place then. All along the road was a long building - a big thatch place which were cowstalls, a stable and cellar - on the end of which was a cottage.
After he left Horsehill, Willie Elliott had it which was his own then he retired. Mr R Tolley took it - a son of Mr R Tolley of Chartnoll. After he left, Willie Elliott farmed it again till he died. Tuck down Stoke Water bought it. Fred Swaffield farmed it next, then Mr House, then Albert Slade.
"Mr Garret at Horsehill Mill"
Mr & Mrs Garrett - Mr H (Henry Smith) - Fred Swaffield - GW (George Wakely)
Mr Garrett used to live at Horsehill Mill. He used to keep several cows and a lot of pigs. He had a lot of land besides the ground around the house - he had Ludwell, Godmoor, Lower Woods and Long Butts. Mr Garrett by trade was a butcher and he used to kill pigs for any body in the parish. That is another thing that is gone a lot of the villages used to have their pig killed and a sell out a part of them and keep the rest for their own use. On pig killing days you would see the women around the shoot and horsetrough cleaning the innards for making blackpot.
I used to help Mr Garrett Saturdays and after school every evening and every night for tea after milking, Mrs Garrett had griddled tidies and cheese and griddle cake. It was good done over a hearth fire. How I used to enjoy it - times have altered a good deal since those days. Nearly every farm or dairy you went to - plenty to eat and drink. He used to have several barrels of cider in the mill what he used to make and men through Horsehill used to look in the mill door to see if Garrett was there and course he used to ask them if they wanted to drink.
Mr Garrett did not enjoy very good health but he loved a joke. One day we was going out in Godmoor to put up some rails. He said "Less go down mill an have a drop a yider vore we go on". After we had some cider he said "Yer Fred I'll bet thee doesn see I tick these yer ha penny from out under these pint cup of water". So I got as close as I could to see him take it out. When he chucked the water all over me of course I didn't see it come out. Wasn't I mad! I cuss en and call him all sorts and went out over the style in Horsehill Orchard. "Yer" he said "Went thee gwine?". "Gwine on whoam" I said. "Thee come on back yer oot" he said. I said "Beant gwine too. Thee gid on out and put up thee blooming rails theeself" However I went back but I liked him for all that.
Mr Garrett didn't get about much he used to go to Bridport market sometimes. Once when he went to market with Mr H and GW in Mr H waggon. They called in the New Inn at night when they came back. Three nice boys - Mr Garrett had bought some fish for his breakfast while Mr Garrett was gone out to the back, GW went out and took them out of the cart brought them in and put them in the oven paper and all around them. They were on with a lot of nonsense - old men that they were we didn't know how to stay there for laughing. Bye and bye GW says "Rather a peculiar smell isn't it?" Mr Garrett says "I think tis thee." "Oh no Mr Garrett it isn't me." Mr H say "Tis some rum stuff whatever tis. I spect tis somebody's supper in oven." GW burst out laughing and says "Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is. Still I shouldn't care for it for my supper to smell like that he he he, ho ho ho". One of the other chaps said "Got a sort of vishy smell an et." Mr Garrett went out. Mr H said to GW "Yer theest bedder gid on whoam vore he da come back. He is gone out da look in the cart da see where they vish be to." In comes Mr Garrett opened the oven door and took out his fish he turned to GW and said "You bl little bu . I got a mind to shove them down your throat. Theest said just now thee wosen like it vor thy supper. I got a mind to ram em down thy throat without gieing thee a chance to chew em". An that the games they used to go on with - still they were all very good friends. After he (Mr Garret) left Horsehill he retired and lived Norway Lane where they both died.
"Rescue at Horsehill Mill"
Mr Bowditch - Mr Slade - Tom Swaffield
Horsehill Mill used to be a spinning mill - years ago a lot of Stoke people worked there. It used to be driven by a water wheel - it is not many years the old wheel has been taken down. I met old Mr Slade the other day - he was a dairy man for Mr Bowditch one time. He is now about 90 years of age and he said "I mind when they used to work there a young woman falled in the pond up behind the water wheel and they thought she would be drawed in under the wheel and they all rushed out of the mill and got up on the bank. Tom Swaffield - thas your Uncle in et. Well he pulled off all his clothes he had on and jumped in and got her out. However he done it I dont know. They nearly got sucked in under the wheel. Course ader he got out all the men and women started laughing at Tom cos he was naked but he didn't care a bit and pon my soul if he didn bide there and danced and kicked up all manner of capers in front of them wet and mud all over as he was."
"An old soldier - George Travers"
George Travers was an old soldier - he had served in India under Lord Roberts. He used to work at Laverstock when I remember him. After his wife died he got very depressed and used to worry about his children and he went away and hung himself. It was on Queen Victoria Jubilee morning - it put a damper on everybody as we were going to have a high day. The last time I remember seeing George alive he seemed very lively - then he came in the New Inn after coming from Laverstock, and it was raining in torrents. He had on two box hats one on top of the other. He used to live in the house at the end of the village near little Horsehill Lane.
"Job Forsey, mason"
Mr Chambers - Job and Sabina Forsey - George Lester
Sometimes of a Saturday I used to go up Jobs weeding and his wife Sabina used to give me a big piece of bread and cheese and twopence. Job Forsey and his wife used to live next to George Travers. Job was a mason by trade he used to work for Mr Chambers at Beaminster. He used to keep a cow and pigs. He was a very quiet man and he was a short stout man. Coming back from Beaminster with him I and George Lester, a Bridport mason. Job had a rise from seven pence to sevenpence halfpenny and how he talked all the way to Stoke about it. Lester said "Did ee git yer rise Job?" "Yes" says Job "No trouble, no trouble at all." "What der say when theest asked en?" "How much dy want Job?" "Sevenpence hapny sir" "Right you are Job, you shall have it. And sevenpence hapny tis gwine to be from now onward. And sevenpence hapny tis gwine to be." "Ah!" says George "you must be pretty good." "Spose." says Job "Wouden gie et to thee ver nothing would er. Never had sevenpence hapny in me life avore."
"Mr Rendell - District Road Surveyor"
Admiral Fox - Mr Rendell - Fred Wakely
Mr Rendell used to live where Admiral Fox lives. He was Road Surveyor for the district. After he gave up he went to Bridport to live. I did not remember much of him as he left after we came to Stoke. Mr Fred Wakely took it over and came there to live from Horsehill.
"Job and Fanny Elliott"
Job Elliott and his wife Fanny used to live in an old cottage on the end of a big building where Admiral Fox lives - about where his garage is now. Job was a short stocky man with a beard. He was an old soldier and had fought in the Crimean War. I have known Job sit on the old seat in the New Inn yard with his glass of beer for hours and talk of his experiences and hardships they had to go through. Job was at the storming of Sebastopol where he was wounded in the head. He said he was thrown back with the dead and was about to bury him when they saw him move. I know he used to have a silver plate on the top of his head where he was wounded. He died a good many years ago. Fanny lived a good many years after. Fanny gave me a wine glass 26 years ago when I was married and she said it was over a hundred years old then.
"Charles and Sarah Canterbury - part 1"
Job Elliott - George Ivory - Edward Smith
Charles Canterbury and Sarah used to live next to Job Elliott. He owned the property where he lived and the plot down behind it - against New Inn plot - with a small orchard at the bottom which is now in with Admiral Fox property. He used to keep a couple of horses and used to drive horse and trap. He was also carrier and his wife Sarah used to go to Bridport or Crewkerne after coal and parcels for the villagers. Her grandson Johnny used to go with her. Now, since Charles and Sarah died, Johnny has the business on his own. Charles was a carter in his younger days - he was a teetolar and a regular chapel goer. He used to haul the raw material to Horsehill Mill and take away the finished article. He used sometimes to go to Crewkerne with it and Coker.
He was a great lover of the hounds and went miles after them and he would talk for hours next day about it. If you were near the allotments you couldnt do much work if Charles was about. Soon as the hounds were off Charles would go off in a different direction from the hounds but he was generally there when they caught the fox. Ee knowed were ee was making var. George Ivory and I lost ourselves up around Coombe didnt know which way to go. Bye and bye were heard a noise in among some high vearn and vus and that was Charles tearing along for all he was worth. "Seed the fox?" says he. "No" we said "We be lost." "You volly I. Youll be alright." says he "The fox is yer somewhere. The hounds beant nowere in et." We followed Charles through hedges and falled down in ditches through vus and brimbles. We had all our time to keep up with him tho he was getting an old man. Directly we found ourselves in Longdown Hill - the fox had gone to earth. When hounds arrives didnt he go on to the the huntsman and told them where they ought to have gome and what they ought to have done. "I knowed where he was making var"
Charles was a very good judge. Charles used to love his horses and I have known him bring great ricks of hay home right from Netherbury Lane as much as he could stand under and sometimes had a horse in stable doing nothing. He had Higher South Field at that time, which is now Mr Edward Smiths.
"When we were confirmed "
Charles Canterbury - Mr Sarjeant the parson
When we were confirmed Mr Sarjeant the Parson hired Charles to drive us boys and girls to Netherbury Church with two horses and two traps - boys in one and girls in the other. Coming home along one of the girls got out of her trap. We was in the hinder trap she came running back and tried to get in over the tailboard of our trap. Charles was driving our trap he hollered to her and said "Where be gwine! Where gwine! Gid out a there!" She said "Tidn room up in tother trap. I be gwine a git up wi tha boys." Charles said "All be eye all me eye room when you come on. Whad ee had too much ver tea?" - because we all had tea at the Brandon. We tried to stop her getting in. Charles shouted "Gid out! Gid Out!" All at once two or three of us got hold of her and dragged her right up over the tailboard and her went down flop in bottom of the trap and didn her laugh and so did we. We couldn help it we could see the comical side of it but Charles couldnt. "There there there" says Charles, "I never seed sich a gwine on never in my life. Greed job, Greed job, Greed job, Greed job, as what tis. Gwine a be a tidy gwine on till we git da Stoke. Shove her out o et. Shove her out o et. Shud up you boys. Bide there kicking up sich a row. I dunno; whatever Mr Sarjeant da think o ee. I just as well a hauled a lot of coalbags down there to be confirmed as you lot sure jist as well." Poor old Charles wasnt he wild.
"Charles and Sarah Canterbury - part 2"
Fred Canterbury - Edward Smith
Charles also used to like Badger hunting at night. Many a time I have been out with him and Mr Edward Smith. The last time he went he could hardly get along but he would go. Charles used to live one time in a cottage where the church room is now. Two or three old houses were pulled down on the same site. Sarah was a very familiar figure she was a big stout woman and she always wore the old-fashioned cotton bonnet called the telt bonnet. She went to Bridport in all winds and weathers. If it was raining in torrents they didnt make the horse travel any faster. Johnny and his Granny didnt worry about wet weather any more than fine.
They used to have a son Fred Canterbury - he was one of the most dare-devil acrobatic fellars in our parish but a very nice fellow. I saw his mother coming down Norway Lane with the horse and waggon - Fred was stood on his hands on the tailboard of the waggon with his feet up in the air. He went all down through street like that - his mother kept on to him to get down but he only laughed and said drive on mother. He was very clever and full of mischief. He would get up and walk round on the top of Stoke Tower - we was expecting to see him fall off and kill himself.
One Sunday we boys and a lot of bigger chaps were up in Stoke churchyard when one of them spied an owl at the top of the big yew tree. Fred said he would bring him down. He got a stone and flung up in the middle of the tree and brought it down first shot. I well remember it for he said "You want have a look at en". I said "Yes". He put the claws of the owl up against my ear and didnt he dig em in my ear - it bled in streams. The owl wasnt hurt much and he let it go again later on. Once he gave me two young pigeons - I thought worlds of them. One day he said lets have a look at them - he caught hold of them an tossed them up in the air an that was the last I saw of my pigeons.
Fred had been in the Scots Guards for a time. Once he had been to Bridport with his mother and when he came back he came in the New Inn with a big straw hat on. And somebody said "Wherest git thee hat Fred." "Thee cast git one ver I like that" "Alright" says Fred "Anybody else like one before they are all gone." The house was full of men. He said "Im taking orders for all of you want - there you are twopence a piece." They all thought he was joking. He went out in his mothers waggon and brought in a girt bundle and got rid of the lot. Later on Sarah was looking for these hats - she had bought them to part amongst her friends. She gid him a good talking to. That was how he was full of mischief. Poor Fred died very young he got bad of a sudden and died of consumption some say it was brought on by a strain.
Sarah was very popular and she liked a bit of fun she was always shouting to somebody or nother. One day she was going up thro Stoke when she met old Charl. "Way Charles" she said. Charles and Sarah lived to a good old age.
"Frank and Isabella Caddy"
Fred and Will Caddy - John Norris - Mary Norris - Edward Smith
Frank Caddy was a farm labourer - he was a very hard working man. He used to gon on hoeing four oclock in the morning and work till nearly dark. He worked for Mr Edward Smith also for his father at Chartnoll for many years. He was a very quiet man - he died suddenly. Isabella his wife used to make sweets which she called ducks and they were very good and of which she sold a lot. She lived several years after her husband. They had two sons Fred and Will. Old Mary Norris used to live in the next cottage by. She was a very old woman she was a sister of old John Norris.
"Old Jane Davy"
Old Jane Davy used to live in the next house by Plot Style. She was the mother of Ellen Swaffield and she had two sons in Wales - miners. They and their sons used to visit Stoke in the summer. A lot of Stoke men went to Wales to work and the village was full of them in Summer. She used to help - Ellen did a lot of washing. She was a very short woman and she was very old when she died.
"Steve Hawkins and his wooden leg"
Mr Bowditch - Steve & Emily Hawkins - Henry Smith - George Wakely
Steve Hawkins used to work for Mr Henry Smith at Chartnoll and after for Mr Bowditch. He used to look after the hackneys. Grooms are another thing of the past in Stoke. Poor old Steve was a very nice fellow - he liked a bit of fun. He has had a hard life - he had to have his leg off and he always had a wooden one. It was wonderful how he got about with it as he used to go catching rabbits every winter. Steve and George Wakely was going down Elvoll Road one day - on wi nonsense they started boxing all in good fun. Wakely was sparring away and Steve up wi his wooden leg and catch George under his ear.
O Steve used to be one of the village barbers. He also was one of the accordion players of the village. I have been to a country wedding or two when Steve has been there with his accordion. What times we used to have at the old country weddings plenty of singing and grub and drink. What a going on used to be. The last wedding I went to we was coming up Mill Hill between three and four in the morning. When we got by Grammeers Mead gate got talking about racing and one bet tother half a gallon of beer that he would race down Mill Gate and back and beat him that was the first race after that. Another took up the winner for another half gallon. And old Steve if he didnt lie back in the bank and laughed till the tears runned down his face. He said he had half a mind to challenge us himself. I dunno what he meant whether he thought a wooden leg was nearly as good as what ours was. The agreement was when all of us met we would have the gallon of beer at the New Inn, but we never all met at the same time. There was one missing and now we never shall as one is now dead. Steve keeps a donkey and a little cart which is very handy for him when he has to go any distance. His wife Emily died a year or two ago.
"Old George Ivory was a flax dresser"
Old George Ivory was a flax dresser. I dont remember very much about him as he died nearly forty years ago. He used to work for Mr Smith who used to grow flax at that time. There was a flax shop out in the orchard by Cowleaye Gate where old George used to work the shop has now fallen down. I remember when his wife died his grandson George and I were up on Pury and we could hear her screaming with pain - she suffered terribly before she died. They used to live in one of the houses by plot gate.
"Old Mrs Elliott"
Harry Wakely - Robert Elliott - Harry Wakely
Old Mrs Elliott used to live in the house by plot gate - she was a very old woman and died nearly forty years ago. I believe she was the wife of a man called Robert Elliott who was the village constable in the days before the police came in. She got very funny towards the end. She used to see and hear things. Harry Wakely was living opposite in one of the two cottages that are now fallen down - which you had to go up a lot of steps to get to them and the garden comes right by Masons Lane. She used to say Harry used to telegraph across to George his brother on the Mounts with blue lights and George did answer back. Sidney Canterbury stayed with her a night or two to try and get her mind for it - but it was no good.
"John Canterbury the builder"
Charles Canterbury - Dick Gale - George Lester - Mr Sarjeant - Jim Staple - George Wakely
John Canterbury was the son of Charles Canterbury. He used to carry on a small business as a builder he used to employ two masons regular - George Wakely and Jim Staple. He was a good mason himself - he could turn his hand to anything: carpentering or play accordion or concertina or a flute or clarinette. He was a very strong man in his younger days. He built the church room and the cottage on the end of it, also Mr Hawkes House on the Mount and Mr Smiths new cowstall and his big loft.
At the time the loft was built, the two old houses at the bottom of Broadclose up in Anchor Lane were pulled down. Where the loft and cowstall are, the orchard used to come right out to the road. He also built two houses in Beaminster right opposite the church - the houses that were there before were old lodging houses. He hired two Bridport masons to help build them George Lester and Dick Gale. I worked for John carrying mortar as a boy. George Lester is dead. I saw a man in Bridport the other day. I thought to myself that looks like old Dick Gale - I hadnt seen him for over thirty years. I said to him "Are you Mr Gale?" he said "Yes, but I dont know you". I said "I worked with you carrying mortar in Beaminster". "La you beant thick liddle boy what use to corr marter ver we in thick girt hod - be ee. Go ow you ve growed liddle bid of a feller wodn ee" I used to have three shillings a week then which was a boys wage then - I was thirteen.
John in his young days used to drive the mailcart between Bridport and Dorchester. I have heard him tell of the bitter journeys he had at night in the winter - snowed in several times. That was in the days long before motors. He also kept two horses and traps himself - he used to drive out a lot himself. John used to be Captain of the Old Stoke Ringers. I remember John sent me out Strong Gate with a gun when Mr Sarjeant came to the Stoke Rectory. His father Charles fetched him from Crewkerne in his horse and trap. When they arrived at the top of Union Hill I had to fire off the gun - the ringers was listening up in churchyard. I waited a long time - nobody came. By and by I heard the bells ring out. They never came that way - they came Broadwindsor way down Norway Lane.
"At work in Beaminster "
Charles Canterbury - John Canterbury - Arthur Hann - George Gill - George Lester - Jimmy Staple - George Wakely
One day when we was at work in Beaminster building the two houses. George Lester who was one of the most nonsensical fellows ever I seen - although a splendid mason and didnt hinder his time. Once he said to me "Freddie go down and ask John for the six inch camber." "Who want it?" says John. "Lester" says I. John says "Is it Lester or you want en?" "Stoop down" he said. I wondered what was up and then he picked up his big trowel and I off out throo as hard as I could and John after me. He said "Ave you got en?" "No, but I fernear had en". I told him what I thought but he only laughed. He could make a fool of anyone yet everybody like him.
It used to be old lodging houses so one day we had to pick over the heaps of stone that came from the walls when they were pulled down and the masons had to chip them over. Lester said "Now look yer me lads, a lot of money was found in these old walls so if we come across any today share and share alike. And when all o us be yer we will go down the eight bells and part it." So we all agreed. We went on working for a time. Lester said "Come yer Fred, Im blowed if I dont think there is something in yer." "Where too?" I said. He said "Look in between they two stoans. What is it?" I went down on me hands and knees and I could see a coin. I went to put me hand in after it. Lester pulled me back. "Yer hold on Freddie, I seed et first." "Well" I said "What odds who da ave et, got to be all parted up an et." "Ah" he said "You being young and careless wi money you might lose et. I got a purse to put et in." An he put his hand and pulled out a half sovereign. He said "Thas a blooming good start in et. Whad a spree we shall ave." I said "Isse". Arth Hann and Wakely come running up and the rest of them. Arth said "He ant bin lost very long. Whad I can see o et. Tell that be the colour o en. Praps we shall hae some more vore the days out."
We went on for a couple of hours when Lester said "Come yer Fred." I said "Wast vound some more?" "I dunno" he said "I fancy I yerd a noise like some money valled down on a stoan." So he wouldnt let me get close. He moved a stone a there was a half crown. Arth said "Whad be they looking at? I spect theyve vound some more. We cant nuen down yer can est" Lester said "I spect this yers where the rich tramps used to sleep. Well change over bye m bye." Arth says "Doan make nuen odds cos tis all gwine a be parted." During the afternoon Lester found another shilling. When we left work we all thought we was going down the Eight Bells and part the money. Lester said "We cant do that. Jimmy Staple idn yer is er. You know what the greement was when we was all together." Arth says "Whad odds is that we can gie Jimmy hes da mar when we see en can ess" "No" Lester said "that wont do." When we were going home Arth said "Theres summat vishy about wole Lester vining all that money." Wakely said "I been thinking. Ill bet thee he put that between they stones when nobody wodn looking and he wasnt far out as we never had none of it"
One day when Lester was on the front wall - he was putting a bit of hoop iron between some stones. George Gill came along and said "Thas very good stuff to bind walls." "Ees tis" says Lester. Gill says "Id know ver any amount oet good hoops too." Lester said "John Canterbury said he'd gie anybody a pint to bring some on." Gill went on, didnt say no more. When we were at dinner out at the back we heard a tinh of a noise coming in throo the building - when in staggers George Gill loaded with hoop iron. He had several hoops over his shoulders hanging in front of him and as many as he could carry on both arms. "Well done. Well done George." says Lester. George stood looking stupid like at John Canterbury. Of course John didn't know or had said anything about it. "Thats a rare lot" Lester said "Start unloading George an pack it up against the wall." He chucked it all down and went out throo cussing like blazes. A day or two after George Gill was passing again when Lester said "George, John was so pleased with the hoop iron that he said you could bring another lot." And he called Lester all he could lie his tongue to.
John hired his father, old Charles Canterbury to help make some mortar for a week. Charles said "I beant gwine a stop in yer wi a fellar like wole Lester. Never yerd sich a fellar in all me life. Never yerd mothin like et. Naw I oodnt bide yer var a fartune. The blooming nonsense he da go on wi. I be off oud a yer." Charles only stopped three days.
One day when it was raining we was in an old shed at the back and one of the tiles was out of place and the water was coming in. Charles said "If I had a short ladder I could soon put that right." So he got a ladder and he went up on the roof and put the tile in place. Lester said "Yers another yer wants shifting a bit. Now tis coming in yer Charles" Charles said "twodn two out of place when I come up yer." Lester said "If you put this one in place I think twill be alright." Of course Lester had a short stick and when he did just lift the tile so as Charles could see which one it was he did push it out of place. It was raining in torrents and we could hear Charles grumbling to himself up on the roof. As fast as Charles put one tile right, Lester did push another out. And he came down and left it and he was nearly wet throo. Lester said "You might as well put tother in place while you was up there. As tis worst than twas afore you went up there." Charles said "I wodn go up there agean, nod if they was all off. Ah you was too harsh Charl when you pushed one in place you pushed tother out." "Ah!" says Charles "Twodn I. Twodn I darn et. Twodn I."
Lester tried to make me believe that every time the cock on Beaminster tower did hear the chimes play twelve he did go down Flatters Shoot to drink. And that iron bars were made of lead. Lester said "My mother and your mother is two mothers." I said "An I know bedder." "I tell you your mother and my mother is two mothers." I said "Theet a liar. Thee beant no relation at all. I spose thee st wan a make out that we be relation." He said "All I said was they was two mothers. I never said nothing about relations."
Lester was a teetolar. He only drank gin. He used to send me up to the Greyhound two or three times a day after a so much in a medicine bottle. The boys used to very often those days fetch drink for the men. Gin was only about fivepence halfpenny a quarter pint then. When I came back with it I always had to go to the pump at the back and fill the rest of the bottle with water and then take it up on the scaffold to him. One day when I came back and going through to the pump, I met John Canterbury the boss. He said "Less see the bottle Fred." So I gave it to him. He had a drink out of it so I went on out and filled it with water. When I came back John said "Less have en." So he had another good swig so I went back an filled it again with water and took it up to Lester. He had a drink never said nothing only looked at me and made a face at me. As much as to say thats good and I didnt know how to keep from laughing. When I went up with some mortar just after he was leaning up against the wall and wiping the sweat off his forehead. I said "Wassa madder wi thee?" He said "Go beant I bad, I dunno whatever da do." I said "Well, wass gon wrong wi thee?" "Ah!" he said "tis the drink. When you go up there ader any more gin, tell the landlady I want the ordinary gin. I dont want none of that strong stuff what her sent smarning - us I shall take my custom elsewhere. And when you go out to the pump go a bit quicker us there going to be a shortage of water." And that was all he said about it.
He had played a joke on John just before. One morning when we got in Beaminster, Lester was always the first on the scaffold. We heard him say "Good morning Missus and how is yer mother?" "Ah! I yerd her was very bad." "Is er gwine da git over it dy think?" "Terrible bad when tis like that." "I hope her ull gid on." "I spose youll be on agean da mar and you can let me know ow er is." "Well good marning Missus." Wakely and I runned out and Jimmy Staple to see who it was. There wasnt no woman out there. Lester was busy at work. Jimmy said "Her disappeared purty quick din er. Must a bin somebody. I didn yer whad er said, but I yerd Lester answer er." Wakely said spect he was answering his one self. A blooming thing we be the biggest fools." I seen Lester smiling to himself.
John gave up the business later on. He used to go to Chartnoll and do jobs for Mr Sparrow, who now as the farm. John got very crippled along the last. He suffered a good bit before he died two or three years ago. His wife Emma is still living. She used to do a lot of braiding. A lot of women used to make nets for the factory in Bridport.
George Canterbury - John and Hannah Harris - Tom Swaffield
John Harris used to live where George Canterbury lives now - he used to keep a shop. He used to have the New Inn one time and he used to carry letters one time. He also carried the Bridport News around Stoke and Broadwindsor. He kept the Anchor Inn for a time. He used to grow flax and hired several men to work it during the winter. He used to hire the ground from different farmers to grow it. John was a very tall man and very upright. He was also a good man with the scythe. John and Tom Swaffield used to mow a lot together years ago. A lot of corn and grass was cut by the scythe since I can remember. John was a very good fellow - a very strong Conservative. He used to like a spree sometimes but I have never seen John in a pub Sundays. After his wife Hannah died, he married again and went to Broadwindsor to live. Hannah was a very nice woman.
"Twas always a pantomime on Saturdays"
Charles Frampton - John & Hannah Harris
Twas always a pantomime on Saturdays. Charles Frampton used to travel round with meat those days and when Hannah had chosen her meat, Charl used to weigh it and say so much, but she wouldnt have it. She would carry it in on her weights and say twodn so much. Charl did cuss and say her weights was all wrong. Hannah did carry it out and chuck it in the cart. Charl did bring it in again and throw it on the counter. Hannah would carry it out again and and say shont ave it. Hed say ess you ool and when they got tired of running backward and forwards Charl would go on and settle for it next week. I seen her once bring it down New Inn Yard and fling it in his cart. John lived to a good old age. He was getting on for ninety when he died.
John Canterbury - Zigul Gerrard - John Harris
Jimmy Staple used to lodge with John for years. Jimmy was a mason and worked for John Canterbury and a good mason he was. Jimmys father used to be a mason and he used to live at Yardley. He used to hire a lot of men. Thats where John Canterbury learnt his trade. Jimmy used to like a drop of cider and he was very fond of ferretting. When he took it in head hed go rabbitting for days, didnt bother about the trowel. Some of the men those day - if they wanted a day or two from their own work did have it. Jimmy was one of the very best I have ever seen dance the four-handed reel. He could step it out. He could make his hobbs noddle on the old kitchen floor. Jimmy used to like badger hunting and I have heard him tell of the times they used to have when he used to go out with Zigul Gerrard, a farmer that used to live at Brimley. I dout know what his proper name was but Jimmy always said Zigul. When Jim was asked to sing in the pubs he always sang an old song - I have only heard him sing it:
Poor Jimmy had a cancer on his lip which caused his death.
"Jim and Martha Meech at Rose Cottage"
Mr Bascombe - Mr Hussey - King Meech - Nanny Morey - Henry Smith - Ann Vickery - Mr Vidal
Jim and Martha Meech used to live at Rose Cottage. They were my wifes grandfather and grandmother. Old Jim used to work for Mr Vidal in his old age. He had been a carter all his life - he was very fond of horses. He used to work at Pilsdon years ago for Mr Hussey. He came from around Mosterton as a boy. His father was a small farmer - only his father had such a large family that some of the boys had to go an earn their own living. His Grandfather was old King Meech and they used to call him King of the Meeches.
Jim used to work at Chartnoll for Mr Henry Smith - also he worked for Mr Bascombe at Chartnoll years before. He told me he remembers when he was a boy - Masons Lane was only like a great gully place and the farmer at Chartnoll hauled a lot of stone and made a proper road. The old road used from Chartnoll to Stoke was down through Broad Close entering at the top by Furze Close and down along under the hedge and come down in Anchor Lane.
Jim was a good mower with the scythe and when they used to mow he always went in front. Once up in Long Moor some of his sons on holiday from Wales took their old father up to see the men cutting corn with scythes. So one of the men offered Jim his scythe to see how he could get on with it in his old age. Of course Jim wanted to go in front though he was crippled up - so he took off his jacket and waistcoat. When he got on some way his trousers began to come down, but he wouldnt stop to pull them up. The men behind him being young and strong were driving close to him until directly his trousers came right down on his boots and there he was with only his shirt on blowing about in the wind, but he wouldnt stop till he got to the end of the field. Jim didnt like being beaten. The men laughed and said theyed never seen a man mowing with only his shirt on before.
Jim told me how old Nanny Morey, who was supposed to be a witch, stopped him and his horses down Elwell road. She used to live in a cottage at the bottom of the field Elwell, about halfway between the gate and Horsehill Lane. Jim used to tell her she couldnt stop him if she stopped others. One day he said he was going on with three horses and a waggon, when Nanny came out and walked across the road an then stood in her doorway. When the horses came to her house they stopped and he could not get them to move. He hit them lightly with the whip but they wouldnt move. Then he did pat them - wouldnt go. By and by she said "Why doan ee go on wi em Jim?" and I jist spoke to them and on they went.
Jim was very fond of his garden and allottment you couldnt find a weed anywhere. He would talk for hours about horses. He was eighty-five when he died. His wife Martha was born at Blackfords in an old cottage that is now in ruins just above Luccombe Farm house. She was a Govier, she used to say that her Grandfather was an Italian General who came to England some time during seventeen hundred and married an Ann Vickery somewhere around Charmouth. Martha died when she was eighty-three. She had ten children.
"John Swaffield and his wife at the New Inn"
John Swaffield and his wife, my mother and father lives at the New Inn. They came from Bridport over forty years ago. His father was a native of Stoke Abbott. The New Inn was originally a farmhouse when we came there, there was stables since pulled down for six horses. Where the garden is used to be the barton and cowstalls. The village was a picture with apple blossom when we came there. What a difference in the times then. The pubs were open all day and men used to stay there all day some of them. What a lot of men have been there that I have known who are now nearly all gone - some very queer characters too. There used to be several men catching rabbits all night and they used to meet there in the morning and sometimes they would quarrel and start fighting. Once there was four of them fighting and father tried to part them and all the lot was down on the floor in a heap. Off comes one of the legs of the kitchen table and cups were all over the place it frightened me as I wasnt very old - what with their guns stacked against the wall it was like the wild west. We used to have a lot of timber haulers lodge there at different times - also timber throwers. They use to keep their horses there and a fine lot of horses they were, especially some that came down from Exeter - great powerful animals.
"Scissors grinders and umbrella menders"
Levi Bartlett - Freddie Hamblin - Sam Harris
There used to be scissors grinders and umbrella menders travelling the roads those days and of course they had to put in a good deal of time at the village pub. One old scissor grinder named Harris used to come round his wife would go on in front and shout "Bring em out for Sammys about! Rusty knives and scissors to grind. For my wole man is coming behind wi a shout?"
There used to be a man named Freddie Hamblin - an umbrella mender. He used to come by day and mend a few umbrellas through the village and by night he would come in the pub and step dance at which he was very clever. He always carried a pair of clogs with him. He earned a lot of money like that. He said to Levi Bartlett one night in kitchen "Do you go to work?" "Yes" say Levi. "How much do you earn?" "Two shillings a day" says Levi. "Well" he said "I can earn that in less than ten minutes." So he got up and went through several different steps and then he went round with his hat and all the men put in a penny each and he counted it out and he had two and threepence. "There" he said "youve worked all day for less than that." The men used to treat him besides and he could get some cider back too. He was also very comical in his talk. He was short and stout with a little box hat cocked on top of his head.
He used to lie rough at night up Anchor Lane - sometimes down Horsehill in the carthouse. He had a cousin that used to travel with him sometimes he used to lie rough. One Sunday morning I went out in Pounds Orchard and under the wall by Emplote Gate he was sound asleep and it had been a very heavy frost and he was as white as the grass around him. I roused him up and he shook himself like a dog and said "Im blowed - beant I coold."
We used to get a lot of queer fellars on the road those days every thing seems different now. Once there was a furniture sale in the village, so in the New Inn Yard there was a lot of men with horses and traps - when a strange woman came in round and drunk as a lord. What a going on there was! After a time they tried to get her to go on but she wouldnt go. She said she wanted a ride - so she got up in Alb H trap and sat back in the bottom of the cart with her head hanging out over the tail board - "Gie me a ride". So Alb said "Ill gie thee a ride." He got up in cart and drove out round yard so hard as his pony could gallop and from one end of the village to the other. Her head was swinging from one side to tother as if he was on a swivel, but she wouldnt get out. The policeman said "Better drive her on down Union." Nobody knew who she was nor where she came from.
"Professor Arnold the conjurer"
Jack Hitchcock - Jack Hitchcock - Tom Scadden - Harry Slade - Fred Wakely
I could write for a twelve month of men and scenes I have seen in the New Inn. Of course years ago the village pub was about the only recreation they had. People didnt get about like they do now - no motor cars and things. Go to Beaminster or Bridport fair one a year and that was about the farthest a good many ever went. We had a man named Professor Arnold came there once - he was a conjurer and he was very clever. He had a big tent in our yard and stayed three or four days. The place was like a fair at night. His tent was full every night - farmers and all came to see him. I have seen a good many conjurers but none better than he, but I dont say there arent as good or better. He fairly mystified the people. He had his show fairly early in the evening about nine or just after. He would come in kitchen or the bar and perform - the house simply packed.
One night he said to old Harry Slade "Would you like to toss for a drink?" "Ess Ill toss wi thee." So he borrowed Fred Wakelys box hat and the coin he did put under the hat and Harry did cry head or tail. He went on two or three times like that and then the next times he lifted the hat instead of a coin twas a ball in under the hat. Next time twas a quart cup. However come there we didnt know. Harry got proper wild with him a said ee was trying to do en out of his drink. Poor old Jack Hitchcock his eyes nearly coming out of his head said "Pon my soul. Mass I well whatever is the wurld coming too." Old Jane Hann who was next to Jack said "Oh my God! Look at that! I wont bide yer. I cant bide yer. My God! Whatever sort a feller is it. Hell have we all bewitched. Oh dear!" One fellar said wished he could do it "Twoudn cost he much in beer fill up a glass wi paper and turn en upside down an out comes the beer". Tom Scadden come in kitchen Sunday night and throwed his hat on the table when he picked him up just after there was a girt onion in under it and the man wasnt near Tom and everybody looking at him.
"The old men was fond of singing"
Father had a mill and press and people of the village used to grind their apples there and make cider. A lot of cider used to be made in Stoke and drunk too. Father has been there over forty years. Now they have altered the pub inside it is not a bit like it used to be - the hundreds of different people that old place has seen and the queer characters would be a revelation. Some of the old men was fond of singing - a lot of songs that I have heard must have been very old. Im afraid some of them must be lost. When they used to sing "The flag that guides the sailor on the wave" they used to roar it out.
Old Jack Norris, when he had a drop, used to roar and holler the top of his voice. If anyone tried to stop he would cuss and bring his fist down across the table and make the cups jump up in the air. A young man wanted to sing after Jack had sung one song. Didnt that set Jack up - he wanted to sing all night. He wanted to fight this young man. "He ood die vore hed led a boy like that sing. Young fellars wodnt gwine a cock walk over ee. Hed cheat the world all to pieces vore hed gie in to em." And didnt he bring his fist on the table. He made the table fair jump.
"Big families there used to be"
Levi Bartlett - Sam Rendell
But the times have altered - the pubs was always full up. There is not a quarter of the men in the village that used to be. Look at the big families there used to be. I was the eldest of twelve. Old Sam Rendell had fourteen and several had eight or nine. Old Levi Bartlett had ten and all the boys was wanted on the farm soon as they left school. Now there is hardly any youngsters on the farms. Used to be a custom time - all the chaps did buy nuts Sunday dinner time and evening and have with their beer. The floor was covered with nutshells Monday mornings. Sometime Saturday nights mother used to get up tripe suppers for the men as jolly good time. They used to have as much tripe as they liked twopence each. Cider used to be very cheap. Father sold many a hogshead at penny a pint, but times will never be again as thay have been.
"Old Caroline Swaffield"
Caroline Canterbury (Mrs Swaffield) -Mr Smith - John Swaffield
Old Caroline Swaffield used to live in a cottage right on the corner by Mr Smiths barton. She was very old. She was my Great Grandmother. I always remember when we arrived at Stoke. I went in her house and she said "Come yer less see if yon got the Swaffield nose." Her maiden name was Canterbury. She married John Swaffield who came from Coker near Yeovil. Her husband was killed up around Lewesdon Hill with a gun getting through a hedge. A man named Symes was with him. Of course, that was a good many years before my time. The name of Canterbury is one of the oldest in the Stoke Register. She died soon after we came to Stoke.
Robert Elliott - Sam Rendell -Mr Smith - John Swaffield - Caroline Swaffield - Tom & Ellen Swaffield
Tom Swaffield who was one of Carolines sons is nearly the last of the old people left alive. He is over ninety. He has just lost his wife Ellen, who was eighty-seven. My Grandfather was a brother of Tom. Tom was a very quick and active fellow. Only like he used to say "if twodn vur is gammy leg he could do a days work naw". He broke it years ago. Tom has been a very lively fellow in his time. He liked a bit of fun as well as anyone. He liked a glass of beer and he would follow the hounds or play a game of skittles as good as I have seen. He used to be a flax dresser and work on the farm sometimes. In his young days he worked at Horsehill Mill also at Chenham Mill as a comber. He has told me that Stoke in his young days was a very lively and rough place. "Tidn half ner quarder the volk yer now an half houses be down." He has told me where houses stood of which there is no trace now.
A lot of hand weaving used to be carried on then. There used to be four pubs in the village. He remembers before the New Inn was a pub when it was a farm. The stables have been pulled down since my father has been there. It was called Stocks Farm - under the wall out in the road was where they used to put men in the stocks. I quite believe when he said it was very rough days at that time. As I remember, a lot of the old men were very quarrellsome when they had a drop. A little argument and they were soon fighting. A lot of the men I am speaking about were born more than a hundred years ago.
I have seen Tom fight more than once and he was pretty nimble too. I saw him once down by allottment gate - he and a Beaminster man. Tom was coming up the road the other was coming down. When they came within thirty yard of each other they started taking off their jackets, never spoken and when they met they started fighting. And didnt they fight and then they both went down and still they fought on the ground. They couldnt stop to get up. Old Sam Rendell came along and parted them. I was coming down Little Horsehill Lane at the time. I saw them fight at the New Inn the day before Tom was nearly sixty then. Tom said in his young days they used to go crudgel playing up in the New Inn Plot. Tom said "Two of em did challenge one tother an ave two girt crudgels and whack et in to one tothers heeds and the vust one to draw blood was the winner."
He remembers when there was no policemen. The village constable was Robert Elliott. When policemen came about first they didnt like it very well because they used to do a lot of poaching. One night a policeman was out in the road waiting for a certain gang coming out of the Anchor. He spoke to one of them and another gid en a push and that started a bother and they sarred shemful nearly killed en and then they went off poaching. "Done et a purpose" Tom said.
"All the villages had their champion fighter"
All the villages had their champion fighter. Tom held it for a time and one village used to challenge another to fight their champion. Stoke champ went to Broadwindsor to fight theirs and they fought in the square and a girt crowd of folk watching them. The constable tried to stop it, but they didnt take nar mosel bit of notice.
"Murder up Anchor Lane"
Mrs Morey - Jim Seal - Tom Swaffield
Tom told me about Jim Seal who murdered the woman up Anchor Lane and set fire to the house which stood just below Whatcombe Gate. Tom was down in Witcombes Hill at work with a carter and a woman, I think he said named Morey, who lived in one of the cottages that were at the bottom of the field Elwell close to the top of big Horsehill Lane. She said "Have you heard about the murder up Anchor Lane" and Jim Seal came up Horsehill Lane at the same time and they asked him if he had heard and he didnt answer. When he killed her he went up across Whatcombe and made his way across to Netherbury Lane and down round to Horsehill. Soon after on comes the policeman and other men and Tom went up and they caught him up in the bank up Woods Lane. Tom said "He was one of the laziest good fur nothing fellars ever he seed - a proper rogue."
"Vussy Hill was ploughed"
Nannie Morey - George Swaffield - Tom & Ellen Swaffield
He said he remember vore Vussy Hill was ploughed it used to be covered with vus and when they rooted up the vus he said "I bin up there many a time an brod whoam a girt night of vus." Carnicks used to come all down droo. Elwell used to be a lane all down along ageanst Seacombe and come out by Horsehill Lane - used to be an orchard at the bottom of Elwell adjoining the two cottages. Old Nannie Morey used to live in one. Tom said there used to be a lane leading from Butts up through Dark Orchard and leading to the street just below the Post Office. A house has been built there since across the end of the lane. He remembers before they had matches when they had to light their fires by striking a flint and a piece of rag. Toms brother George attended Ellens funeral. He is ninety-four. Tom is now gone to Bournemouth to live with his daughter. It was a great wrench leaving Stoke after all these years. He will be be missed as when there was anything going on Tom was always among it. He had two daughters.
"Levi & Polly Ackerman"
Sid, Alf, Edgar, Frank and Earn Ackerman - Tom Swaffield
Levi Ackerman and his wife Polly used to live next to Tom Swaffield. Levi was always an invalid all the time. I knew him in his younger day - he was a mason by trade. He had an accident - he used to go on crutches. I never hardly see him in the street only out in the garden. He had five sons: Sid, Alf, Edgar, Frank and Earn. Sid and Alf went to Canada.
"Eve Slade and her son Harry"
Farmer Bascombe - Joe Hann - Harry Slade Edward Smith
Eve Slade and her son Harry used to live next door. Eve was a proper old-fashioned sort. Harry her son was never married he used to put in most of his time up Galpins at Court Orchard. I think he had a bit of money in the place. One time he had been a dairyman. Then he used to grow flax and hire men to work it for him. He was also a foreman for Farmer Bascombe at Chartnoll years ago. Harry used to like a little drop. And nothing used to please him better than sit by the fire at the New Inn and tell of his doings all through his days especially at Chartnoll when he was foreman.
Farmer Bascombe used to keep eight of the finest horses in the neighbourhood. I have heard others say the same. Furzehill was ploughed at that time and once they had all the horses and started loading wheat at the bottom and went straight up over the top which took some doing as it is very steep they used to plough it downhill and go back leary. South Chartnoll and North Chartnoll were ploughed too, also Marllands. I have heard say Gerrards Hill and Dishclose were also ploughed. He used to tell about the deep snows they used to have and how Farmer Bascombe was found buried in the snow up in Waddon Hill from which he never recovered. Once he had a flax rick afire - it was not much good been badly harvested. His men were by the rick with a big jar of cider watching the rick burn. Harry shouted to them about trying to dought it and they only laughed and one of them shouted "Come down yer and warm theeself yore be fool."
Harry used to be very friendly with Joe Hann when he was at Stoke - who was a dairyman for Mr Edward Smith - and when they met at the New Inn it was fun alive to here them. They used to get sot up with one another and cuss trying to beat one another with the wonderful things they had accomplished. Joe used to be able to tow all the pheasants for miles around to his Barten and go out with bat of his journey whip and knock down seventy or eighty of a morning. And Harry said "I was up in higher down once with a big load of hurdles right on the brow when the waggon started turning over. Harry said "I whipped up side of the front of the waggon and whipped out the drawbar and the waggon went down alver and alver right to the bottom hurdles and all but I saved the horses and the fool carters stood there and didnt know what to do if hadn done hosses and wood been killed." Now it is practically impossible to pull out a drawbar when the waggon it tipping as it is very tight. But if Harry said a thing you couldnt turn him.
"The daylight saving bill"
When the daylight saving bill came in he wouldnt have that at no price. The men used to get him on a night - it was worse than a pantomime. He said "Do you think my Grandfather clock what been going two hundred year would go if I altered en too this newfangled bloody gingerbread time. No he wouldn and I shouldn spect en too. Not her." One of them said "Spose you was to altered en and he went wast do do do." "Id bweat en up. I bweat en up ass whad Id do." "Spose theest had to catch the eight oclock train twoudn be no good to git out there at nine hed be gone." "I oodn goo wi tha thing. Id catch the next. Thad ee ood. Id wait for the next. I oodn go with the fust one if he didn go proper time."
After his mother died Harry lived by himself. He used to have most of his food up Galpins. John Canterburys place belonged to him and where the Bakers shop used to be. He suffered a good deal in his stomach. He got so bad at last that he had to go to the Union where he died. He used to make wine. I have had many a glass at his house I used to go in his house sometimes at night. As he liked somebody to talk to He used to tell be a lot about old Stoke and how they used to farm years ago.
He used to have a photo of an old man dressed as a sailor of Nelsons day which he told me was his gread grandfather. He had been to sea, Harry said, for several years and when he got to Yeovil he got a kettle and filled it with whiskey and everybody he met from Yeovil to Coker he would give them a drink from the kettle. Harrys father came from around Yeovil.
"Old Lizzie Ackerman"
George Ackerman - Levi Ackerman - Mr Sarjeant
Old Lizzie Ackerman used to live with her son George. Levi Ackerman was also her son. I dont remember much about Lizzie - George her son was a postman. He used to take the letters from Stoke right through the Vale and there to Marshallsay where he stopped till it was time for him to return. He did this for a good many years. What a tramp he had especially in the winter. George was a jolly fellow - used to play accordion and was a very good actor. George used to take part in the theatricals that Mr Sarjeant used to organise.
George Ackerman - Tom & Poll Caddy - Parson Williams
We boys used to like to hear George tell of his experiences on his rounds especially when he used to meet Tom Caddy, who lived at Marshallsay at that time. Tom was a very queer stick he would make a cat laugh. I have heard him myself but a lot of it could hardly be written down. Tom always cocked out one leg and pointed a finger up in the air when he spoke. His wifes name was Poll and they used to create fun alive at Marshallsay.
Tom was a stone cracker and hedger. He said to me once "I dunno what they gwine a do ver hedgers when poor wole Toms agone." Tom was hedging once down Bettiscombe when old parson Williams came along a said "Doing a bit of hedging then Caddy?" Tom pointed to a little tree in the hedge and said "Yes sir, an thick little bugger got to come down too!" After the post work was altered George went from Stoke to another round.
Harry Bartlett - Mr Bowditch- Charles Hallett - Edward Smith - Henry Smith - Mary Ann Stoodly
Harriet Hallett used to live in one of the houses at the barracks. She was the mother of Charles Hallett. Mary Ann Stoodly used to live in another house at the Barracks and with her lived Harry Bartlett. She had looked after Harry ever since he was a baby when his mother died. Harry was a carter most of his life. He worked for Mr Henry Smith at Chartnoll, then later for Mr Edward Smith at Lower House. Now he is labourer for Mr Bowditch. Harry has worked very hard in his time. Harry sung in the choir at Church for many years, also he was a bell ringer. Many is the quarter of cider I have drinked with Harry on Mr Smiths farm. Only Harry could drink it when twas freezing hard and I couldnt.
"Every village had its shoemaker"
Harry Bartlett - Old Benner of Beaminster - Ann Hann - Charles Hann - Job Hann - shoemaker Holland
Ann Hann lived in the other Barrack house - with her lived her son Charles who was a shoemaker and a good shoemaker he was too. Every village had its shoemaker who used to make most of the boots for the farm men and good strong boots they were, but some of them were very heavy. A lot of the old village crafts have died out. Old Benner of Beaminster used to come round here taking orders for boots and also a man from Mosterton.
I have heard Harry Bartlett say a shoemaker named Holland used to live at Glen Cottage and he used to hire several shoemakers and also keep apprentices. I remember the old shop which stood along where the front gate is now. Charl Hann used to suffer a lot from neuralgia - after his mother died he married and went to Beaminster to live and carried on his business there but he used to walk over to Stoke every night after work. He used to like the company of the Stoke fellows - it wouldnt do to say anything against Stoke when Charl was about. Charles was a great walker and very fast. Sometimes when he had been to Bridport he would walk all the way to Beaminster. One night he came in the New Inn. And he said "Wast think went day Bridport last week. Went I got back by Melplash the policeman overtook me - got talking so I found he stuck to me ferdy well so I did slow down so did ee. I though to meself let en go be hiself, but he didnt he said ere might as well go on together an we had a nice friendly chat all the way. When we got to Beaminster he said Good night Charl and I said Yer, I dont want nor little bit of blue paper at the end of this Oh he said Thas allright Charl and Im blowed day er two ago I had some and I da mend his boots var en too." Charl used to have a brother Job who was a policeman in London and a tall big fellow he was too.
Will Paul - Mrs Moores - Rose Moores - Ted Moores - John Warr
The house before you come to Glen Cottage was where old Mrs Moores lived with her son Ted and her daughter Rose. They used to carry on the business of baking and also kept the Post Office. Rose - she used to teach in the infant school. Ted was the baker at one time. They kept a chap besides. He used to have a pony and trap he used to go to Beaminster with bread and he used to go as far as Dottery. It was generally three or four oclock when they started for Salwayash and Dottery - didnt never get back till between nine and ten.
I used to with Ted on the chap when we got to the New Inn at Salwayash. I had to do down to Ford and then to Strongate while he went on to Dottery. I used to be half afraid - not being very old. Sometimes it was pitch dark before I came back from Ford. Then I had to wait at the New Inn till he came back along. The men used to try and frighten me in the pub and say Teddy was gone back to Stoke long ago and I should have to walk home. A man named Gudge kept it at that time. When Teddy did arrive he would have a glass of beer and give me some ginger beer and wasnt I glad when we started for Stoke.
He had a covered-in van so I used to get inside. Teddy did start off at a trot - before long the horse get into a walk and used to think we should never get home. What I used to have was a little stick and in the front board of the cart was a little hole. When the horse was just strolling along I did push the stick through the hole and tickle Teddys leg then he did crack the whip and off goes the pony again for a bit - then it all happen over again. When we get nearly to the top of Bowood Hill the pony did start drawing in the near side of the road. John Warr kept the Gollop Arms at that time. I used to shout out "You dont want to go in there you served them with bread when we came on!" "Yes I know, but I got a message for them what I forgot when we came on."
But Teddy was a very nice fellow. I used to like him, but he used to make me wild because he was never in a hurry. Hed bide and wait till I came out of school and then I had to go on a journey like that without any grub from the time I went on to school till I came back. And then Mrs Moores always had a good tea ready for us nearly ten at night. Teddy could play the fiddle a treat he used to have a chap named Will Paul work for him for a time but he was a nit. He was up to all manner of mischief once he had a lot of Valentines and he stuck them all around the bakehouse. Old Mrs Moores came in an made him pull them all down. One morning Will was missing he runned away an joined the army.
Description of Stoke Abbott in 1895 by Frederick Swaffield
Transcription Copyright Stephen Jones 2000,
from the original volume held by Dorset Record Office, Reference D.459/1
Page created on 01 May 2000
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