Gravelroots Heyshott memories
by Eileen Heel
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Heyshott Years
Memories of living in Heyshott by Eileen Heel - [nee Read]

11 August 2013

I have been very interested in reading about Heyshott and its history. My parents, Mrs & Mrs Bill Read, and I moved into Lower Cranmore Farm in around 1946. I was just 4yrs old, my dad was the cowman who worked for John Hills, who was living at Walkers Farm at the time. I can remember all the Jersey herd being sold, it was a very sad day,
My first school was Heyshott, until it closed our teachers were Mr Burns and Mrs Caffrey who had a big Airedale dog. After that we all had to go to Graffham school on the coach, and then later on, we went to the school in Midhurst, which was a big new school then.
Mrs Chapman and her husband lived next door to us. I think she ran a guest house, or something. They adopted, or fostered, a young girl named Pat Campbell, I think she was a year younger than me. The countryside was very new to her, so I would think she came from a town.
I remember the old house very well, it had a cold dark cellar which was out of bounds for me. It had a staircase and a door which led from our kitchen. Of course we didn't have electricity when we first went there and only a cold tap for water, although there was an old well in the garden.

Dad used to keep pigs and we had a little Jersey house cow named Beauty, she was almost black. Dad was also a licensed slaughter man, and he used to go round various farms in the area to slaughter their pigs, as in those days that was the done thing, how times have changed.
I can remember seeing Mr Parry's old donkey, Mr Lovejoys carthorses and also the Frankham family pony, a dun gelding, all grazing freely on the common, and the polo ponies that were over by the pond in Coldharbour
We, as children, used to play in the old Pill box.
Mr West who lived up past there on the common used to tether his goats out on the common. They used to fence off the little cricket pitch over the common from us to keep the animals off it.

Sidney Parrys donkey cart, Heyshott
Sidney Parrys donkey cart, Heyshott

I also remember the old mole catcher chap, he was referred to as 'old Moley' he used to wear a long dark overcoat. It was quite a common sight to see him in a ditch still sitting on his bike with mole traps hanging on the handle bars and him asleep having had a little too much ale, but he was harmless enough and nobody took any notice of him.
We did go back and visit in the early 60's when John Hills and family were living in Cranmore House, Peggy their youngest daughter took great pride in showing us her collection of guinea pigs, and David took us for a tour around the farm on the tractor.

13 August 2013
I have listened to the Heyshott voices, what a brilliant idea.
It's such a small world, David Hills was saying about the old Sussex Barn that was at Lower Cranmore Farm, it was sold and taken down to someone in Billinghurst. Well, would you believe when we had our business in Surrey before we came to West Wales, one of our customers was in fact telling us all about that he had bought this Sussex Barn and was rebuilding it at his place, now that's not something that happens very often is it? So surely this must be the very same Barn.
However, I have written to David, telling him about this, [and also I have looked through our old works address book and found the name and address of this chap] I should imagine he is still at the same address although its over 10 yrs ago now.
As I say, we moved to Heyshott before I started school, so that must have been around 1946.
I can remember Farmer Lovejoy's wife, she gave me a black kitten, just after I started going to Heyshott school.
In those days, there were often Farmer Lovejoys cart horses seen out on the common, it didn't please my mother too much, because she was always afraid of horses, unlike me, who's life has revolved around them. I remember when there were polo ponies kept at Coldharbour near the pond, which was just across the common from where we lived, I was always over there, there were also a few cattle out with the polo ponies as well. Some of them had ringworm. Well, I managed to catch just a little patch on my wrist, which kept me off school for almost a whole term. This to me was wonderful, as I was never a big fan of school, and when it did eventually clear up I tried my hardest to get it to return, but no, it never did. The Cobb children lived at Cranmore and, if I remember right, one of them got it all in his hair, poor lad.
There was a lady that lived across the road from us, in Peace Lane, Mrs Critchley. She had a daughter, called Caroline.
They had 3 horses, Moonlight, Dawn and Diana a skewbald cob. Caroline had a pony called Tony, which they let me have a ride on. Caroline went away to a boarding school. She had two brothers who were not there very much, they lived away somewhere.
I had a friend that lived down the Foundry, Alan Taylor, he lived there with his mother, just down from where the Hunts lived. I think he, like me, was an only child. He used to get picked on at school quite a bit by the other children. We used to build our own bonfire out by the rough bit of land that was in front of the field next to our house. We used to go and cut fern and drag it all back and stack it to make our bonfire. It took us ages, we started it in about September time, yes, we worked really hard at it.
I remember one time when we had cart horses on the farm, Prince and Blossom. Blossom was turned out with the cows in the field with the footpath running through it, anyway she came up to the gate, the big farm gate, not the footpath gate. I climbed up onto the gate, and then she let me climb onto her back, which I thought was wonderful. Then she decided she would walk off and graze, there I was, stuck. She was too big to jump off, I thought, so I just had to sit there, which I did quite happily. Well, when Dad came to get the cows in for milking he was really cross with me. He got me off and sent me home with a smacked bottom and told me never to do that again. I couldn't have been more than 5 or 6 yrs old, so really didn't see any danger in what I had done, but it never put me off horses obviously.
Seeing your photo's of Heyshott, you are so lucky, it hasn't changed that much, unlike most places now. But I must say living here in West Wales is very much like living in Heyshott. It is still a village community, mostly farming, and people will still help each other, the old principles still remain here.

15 August 2013
I have just visited our old place, via Google Earth. I see that they have built another house next door to Lower Cranmore Farm the cottage where we used to live, which used to be a field. The unusual electricity pole fittings I see still remain the same, but they have really done a lot of work to our old house, which I believe was actually condemned at one time. They have moved the front door, which was in the middle, and replaced it with a window, and of course built a garage by the side on what used to be Mr & Mrs Chapman's. I see Mr Chapman's old shed/garage still remains a little further down the lane on the other side, he also used to have a big green chicken house opposite the house. Next door to them was Mr & Mrs Mills, it was said that they had a daughter that they unfortunately lost with diphtheria. Mr Mills had a little workshop opposite their house. It was he who made me a wooden hoop at one time, they were quite elderly and if I remember rightly he had a gammy leg.
There was also a lovely old lady, Mrs Carey. She lived, I believe, next door to Mr & Mrs Miles, if not next door certainly in that block of houses. I remember she died and was buried in Heyshott churchyard. It was the very first funeral I went to, then Mr & Mrs Jones had the end house. She was quite a large lady and didn't go out very often, but she was very good to us kids, she spent a lot of her time looking out of a bedroom window. I suppose she was quite lonely if the truth were known. She did have quite a few cats about, but she loved chatting to people as they walked down to go through the footpath.
There is so much I can tell you about my time in Heyshott, as I said I have written to David Hills re the old Sussex barn, I just hope that he gets my letter as I have had to sort of guess his address.
We left Heyshott in around 1954/1955.

Sent: 18 August 2013
Hi there, I hope I'm not boring you, but I thought perhaps you would like to know how we lived and what it was like back in those times in Heyshott. There were no fridges or freezers to be had then, not that they would have been much good to us anyway, because it was quite a time before we had any electricity.
We had just a cold tap over the sink in the kitchen and the old black kitchen range in the living room, which had a grate at one end and an oven at the other. It was kept going with coal and wood. Of course there was no way whatsoever to actually control the temperature of the oven. My mother was a great cook and had worked it all out to a fine art, so we didn't have any major disasters, well not that we knew about anyway.
This black range was the only means of heating in the whole house, no central heating in those days. I can remember in the winter sometimes that there was just as much frost on the window panes inside as there was outside.
I think people were far more healthy then, than they are now with all the central heating and double glazing.
As for washing clothes, we had a big old copper built in a corner of the kitchen. Often it was a bother to light depending on the direction of the wind, so mum said, again firewood had to be collected to light the darn thing. It was very hard work in those days for my mother and I suppose all those with a family to look after, I was an only child, but some people in the village had up to five children to look after.
I suppose we were very lucky because there was always plenty of food. We kept chickens, ducks and a few geese, as well as pigs.
Dad used to breed Large White. We had two big sows, Sally who was lovely and Lassie who you just didn't mess with, especially when she had piglets, and Beauty our little Jersey cow.
We had a large vegetable garden where dad used to grow all our vegetables, so really 90% of our food was home produced.
Mum used to make butter, and I sometimes helped her to turn the butter worker, then when the butter had formed she used to use her two wooded butter pats to work it even more and get it into shape. Dad bought a separator that used to separate the cream and produce the skim milk. The skimmed milk went either to the pigs or down the drain. If anyone had told dad that people would be buying skim milk he would have laughed at them. I used to have fresh cream on my porridge every morning for breakfast.
We used to have the 'Friday night man' call every Friday evening selling everything from Paraffin, and candles to those big accumulator batteries for the Radio, great big square things, I think they had to be recharged of something, his van was always well stocked up with things people might need, although we had a shop in Heyshott for general groceries etc, Blackistons the butchers use to deliver, my old collie dog Jack, used to have a bone from our usual delivery man, but sometimes it was a different chap, and for some reason Jack took a dislike to this other one, and wouldn't even accept a bone from him, just sat and growled at him. Very unlike Jack. We had two dogs, Jack and Peter a golden Labrador one of Kim's pups who used to belong to John Hills, he took him on because Kim used to chase chickens and needed a new home, then someone wanted to use him as a stud dog, hence Peter was one of his puppies.
We also used to have a baker call round once a week, selling bread on one of those tradesman type bikes with the big carrier on the front. We did have a car, a Lanchester, 12 hp with pre-selector gears, I even remember its number YY7565. Of course it had to have a tow bar on it for the trailer, to take pigs to and from the market. I remember once it broke down, the big end went, so dad said, so off it went to Farmer Stevens garage to get it fixed. While it was away dad bought another car a big Daimler, from a sale, but he didn't like it much because something or other wasn't in the right place, so he said, so it was sold on as soon as our Lanchester was fixed.
Dad always use to be up very early in the mornings to see to our own animals and also the cows down at Lower Cranmore Farm.
There was a small Jersey herd to start with, which of course all had to be milked by hand. I learned to milk a cow long before I started school. I cannot remember a milk round from Lower Cranmore Farm, as all the milk left the farm in churns, whether the said milk round operated from Walkers farm, I cannot say, but it wasn’t from Lower Cranmore. It was a very sad time when it was decided to sell the Jersey herd and replace with British Friesian, which gave more milk but less butterfat.
I had a friend, Ann, a rather shy pale faced girl, who lived in the place next door to Walkers Farm, Oatscoft. We were told not to mix with people from there for some reason, why I do not know. I felt very sorry for the girl, she didn't seem to have any friends at all. I think she went to a convent or something, really not sure. There was something very strange about that place, there was an old tomb or gravestone up in the woods near there surrounded by Rhododendrons, it was to the left hand side of the drive going up to the Walker Farm.
Mr & Mrs Sayers lived at Cranmore House then. I remember that they had a big Horse Chestnut tree in their garden and Conkers used to drop over the wall onto the common and us kids always used to go there looking for conkers when they were around. We didn't really know the Sayers, they thought that they were a bit too posh I suppose. Mr and Mrs Wilcox used to live further down near the common across from the old Pill box, they were lovely people, I used to visit them a lot.

Two other lovely ladies that lived up near the school were Mrs Wakefield, who lived by the slight bend in the road on the church side, and Mrs Dudley, who lived in the houses almost opposite a bit further along, and of course our Rector Rev Goodwin, who used to come visit us all in school.
I have this photo taken of the Rev Goodwin at one of the social evenings at the school, I know Dennis Brown has that same photo, and he still lives in Heyshott.
I will have to try and find it for you, huh there's me stuck in the front looking like rabbit caught in the headlights!

Heyshott school Social evening c.1948

Eileen Heel [nee Read]

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