Abdon and Heath Parish
Memories of Abdon
Memories of Abdon (Edited by the Abdon Web Manager)
Eva Timms nee Green (1913 - 2004) spent her childhood in Abdon.
Prospect House - by Eva Timms
My sister and I had a very nice childhood in Abdon. We lived in Prospect House at the foot of the Brown Clee Hill.
Prospect House had two bedrooms. In the kitchen was a good sized cooking range with a boiler by the side for hot water. There was a tall cupboard and the pantry had salting slats. There was a coal house around the corner. Outside was a building with a copper in. Sometimes it was used for brewing beer as well as doing the washing!
There was a cowshed, stable and pigsty and around the corner in a field was a wainhouse. There was a large garden with a lavatory and a filbert tree. A large patch of ground was used for growing potatoes, swedes and mangols. These fed the family and animals all winter. Dad used to tump them.
There were five good sized fields, each with something different in it. One had mushrooms, another had windflowers and cowslips, and another had gorse bushes. We kept cows, horses, pigs, turkeys, geese, ducks and fowl. There were always plenty of rushes on the hill for Dad to thatch the hayricks and bracken for the animal bedding.
The old turkey spent some time not going to her nest if we were about. We also had a duck called Joey. We used to take him and put him in the pool. He would start quacking, get out and dash up the field, and would be home before us. I never found out why he didn't like water.
We got our water from a well in a field and there was also a rock well on the hill. One day Mother fell down the bank with the water and had to go to the Ford Chapel to sing with a bandage on her head.
The baker and butcher used to come around. Aaron Parker used to come and cut Dad's hair on a Sunday morning. Sometimes the hunt would come up the fields onto the hill.
There was always plenty to do at Prospect House: taking sheep to be dipped and washed, sorting potatoes, picking stones and digging saffron bulbs. We always had to help with the harvest. One day Dad sent Nancy (my sister) for the beer from the barrel for the harvesters. Her legs got more wobbly and her singing got louder. Dad said "Our Nancy is drunk", so that was the end of her trips. She was having a sip with every trip!
Out and About - by Eva Timms
At the top of the hill over Abdon Burf was a stone quarry. The stone was dhustone, one of the hardest stones there is, it was used for roads. The stone was sent to Ditton Priors station by incline. The loaded truck went down and it pulled the empty truck back to be filled again.
My rather was blaster at the quarry and when we were picking whim berries on the hill we could hear him shout "Fire". We used to get in a hole left by coal mining experiments, as the stone fled a long way.
If we needed to go away we had to walk four miles to Ditton Station to catch the eight o'clock train which connected with a train at Cleobury Mortimer. The Ditton train was called the Light Railway. It returned at four in the afternoon.
Our first 'bus' around our roads was a lorry with seats and a tarpaulin. Mr. Howells used to practise before he took passengers.
One of the highlights of the year was the Ludlow May Fair. Another highlight was the Craven Arms May Fair.
Once a year we had a flower service at the Heath Chapel, a small church with box pews. We all took flowers to be given to the hospitals.
My sister and I used to fetch the newspapers from the carriers at Stoke St. Milburgh on a Sunday. We used to pass the gypsies in their camp. They mostly said "Hello Missy".
Later on we had our own horse and cart to take stock to Ludlow Auction. We would go to Ludlow and put the mare up at 'The Compasses'. An ostler would stable her and feed and water her, I think it cost sixpence. We had lunch at Dobson's Cafe and tea at De Grey's Caf?. We used to take the mare to Hayton's Bent to be shod by Mr. West, and also to Ditton Priors and Mr. Rowe's smithy.
My father had a hiring license from the trap, for weddings and funerals and to take people to Ludlow.
Dad used to ride a black pony called Polly. One day we went to Ludlow. Corve Street had been repaired and the mare slipped and fell down. Mum, Dad and I fell out of the cart. We were not hurt but it was a shock!
School Days - by Eva Timms
The school and the church were both in walking distance of Prospect House. The children from the houses around used to shout for us to go to school. We called it yodelling. We would meet up and call for the Duce's children. There was a big family and if we asked the little girl the time she would tell us the time by the parlour clock and the kitchen clock.
We had some very good teachers, especially one from Scotland, Mrs. Ayres. Her husband kept bees and poultry and used to take the boys for gardening. Mrs. Ayres died before I left school.
The school was cleaned by Lou Hanson. She was a marvellous person who would help anyone. She smoked a pipe and wore leggings.
Being a Church of England school the Rector came once a week to take Scripture. Every year we sat the Bible and Prayer exam. It was for the whole diocese. We would go to the Clee Vicarage and write for two hours in the morning, have our lunch, and then write for another two hours in the afternoon.
Our Rector Mr. Knapton was very good. We had a sports day at his house. We played clock golf and the boys had clay pigeon shoot, and we had team and relay races against another school. The winner got a cup and we all had lovely prizes.
In the village of Abdon was Lower House Farm. The old mother used to throw apples for us to scramble. There were three daughters and a bachelor son. One daughter took Sunday School.
We had some friends whose fields were near ours. They were the Cartwrights, three boys and a girl. I had some nice friends at school: Norah Clark, Doris Norgrove, Bessie Humphreys, Dolly Brown and Gladys Duce. My sister's friends were: Gladys Parker, Molly Humphreys and Linda Edwards. At Christmas we went carol singing with some of the girls and boys.
My sister used to have a funny habit. If anyone said "Good morning" to her she would say "Ning" and give a few little skips. One day going home from school the cow pasture pool was frozen. We did a bit of sliding and someone dared my sister to fetch some stones from the middle of the pond. She was silly enough to go. The ice broke and she went in. Fortunately Frank Duce was with us and he was a very big boy. He managed to pull her out!
I don't suppose I will visit Abdon ever again, but part of my heart will always be there!
Val Bowden recalls times spent with her Grandparents in Abdon in the 1950s.
The Old Rectory - by Val Bowden
Come with me to Shropshire, the beautiful rolling countryside of the border counties. At the foot of the Brown Clee Hill is the 'lost' village of Abdon, now a sparsely populated area with farms and scattered cottages. It was at Abdon's Old Rectory that I spent many happy hours with my maternal grandparents, Granny and Grandad Green.
Enter the drive through the five barred gate, hear the engine of the little Austin whining as it climbs what to a child is a long steep driveway, to the old house standing so serene and solid against the skyline and trees. Past the trees on the left and the rhododendrons on the right, through another gate, here at last.
Out of the car and along the front path with the distinctive smells of the box hedges and newly scythed grass. Here are Granny and Grandad with welcoming smiles, who lead us into the sitting room with its welcoming familiarity, but the life sized picture of Queen Victoria is still not amused!
Grownups chat and Granny disappears into the gloom at the end of the passage and reappears with the tea tray. Time goes on and the grownups are still talking so out I creep across the hall to the other room, my favourite place, the piano with its vases and candle holders. I open the piano stool and take out some music, happiness! I loved that old piano and the old songs from Granny's and Grandad's younger days. 'The Old Lamplighter', 'Londonderry Air', 'Won't You Buy My Pretty Flowers' and many more old songs and Irish melodies.
Later the daylight begins to fade and the oil lamps are lit, shutters closed and the fire made up. Maybe a few friends will arrive to see the grownups and maybe spare a few words for my brother and myself.
Oh dear it is time for bed. Candles are lit casting flickering shadows as we climb the polished staircase and go along the landing past the dark archway which leads to the three back bedrooms. "Don't run Valerie" - don't they know that I'm scared of the dark and those long shadows that follow me and weave around the walls?
At last I'm in bed with the covers pulled right up so that the spooks won't get me in the night. The candle is over on the wash stand well away from clothes and bedding, but the draughts make it flicker, forming even more eerie shadows on the walls and ceiling. Outside the silence is broken only by the whisper of wind in the trees and the hooting of owls out there in the moonlight.
The sun is shining. I can hear the birds singing, Granny and Grandad moving about downstairs and sheep in the distance. The dark has gone and it is a lovely bright new day!
A Trip to Ludlow - by Val Bowden
I'm staying at the Old Rectory in Abdon with Granny and Grandad Green. Mum, Dad and Ian have gone back to Shirley. A car load of relatives from Leicester has arrived and I now share the bedroom with two of my Great Aunts, Ethel and Clara, who are twin sisters of my Granny. They always seemed to be singing, especially "The Happy Wanderer" when they sang "Val-er-ee" instead of "Val-der-ee".
The days pass by and Grandad and Uncle Sid cut firewood and do other outside jobs whilst Granny and the Aunts cook and chat and do whatever else grownups do. I never worried about them, I spent my time climbing trees, collecting interesting bits of pottery in the chicken yard, or just sitting and drinking in the peaceful atmosphere. It is lovely just to be there.
It is Wednesday, and we are up early to catch the weekly bus into Ludlow. Just listen to all the passengers chatting and laughing, catching up with all the news as they all live in remote farms and cottages. Why have we stopped? Oh yes, good old Reg the driver has seen a regular hurrying down a farm lane and waits patiently.
Here we are in Corve Street. The bus stops to let people off including Granny who takes her weekly basket of eggs to sell at Peachey's. Grandad and I stay on the bus until it reaches The Square near the castle. Our first errand is to book our lunch at Macdonalds Fish Restaurant. We then meet up with Granny and Grandad goes off to take the accumulators which power the radio to be charged up, and to do his own errands.
Granny and I go to the shops and buy Red Cheshire cheese, aniseed and rock sweets in a paper bag and a few other things before going to Rix's with the order which will be delivered the next day. The bags of shopping are then taken and put on the bus, and then we meet up with Grandad and go for our lunch.
Later on everyone boards the bus for the homeward journey. Along the way heavily laden ladies (and men) alight with cheery waves and "Goodbyes" and then all too soon we are at the little stream at the end of the lane. The drive seems long and steep to a tired little girl!
The rest of the week is spent with Granny and Grandad as they go about their daily tasks in the house or grounds or up at the church with one or other of them. Sometimes I am allowed to carefully go down to the farm for a jug of milk from the Misses Bradley and stroke the friendly old sheepdog who dozes by the back door. Some days I play with my friend Glenny who lives at the School House.
Going to Church - by Val Bowden
The new day has dawned at the Old Rectory in Abdon. It is Sunday and I can hear Grandad Green whistling as he puts on his best boots and cap to go up to church to ring the bells which call the faithful to Matins. Later the rest of us go through the kissing gate at the top of the drive, and up the Broad Meadow watched by the curious cattle or nervous sheep.
We have climbed the hill and go through the little white gate which leads into the churchyard... mustn't run it's God's house... past the brooding yew outside the church door which has stood sentry for many, many years. Through the doors we go into the little church with its familiar smell of polish and candles.
At harvest time all the windows would be decorated with fruit and flowers, but at all times Miss Lucy Bradley would be playing the organ for the services. She was quite upright and always looked stern, I was in awe of her. The service is led by Rev. Adderley. I do hope I can find the places in the prayer book!
There is Grandad behind the font pulling on the chains to ring the bells, he stops and comes and sits with us, the service begins.
My brother was born in July 1952, the year our Queen ascended to the throne. Ian was to be christened at the church at Abdon where our parents were married and I was also christened.
For the occasion my mother bought me a lovely white party dress - white organdie which fell in frills over the skirt.
The journey to Abdon was quite eventful. We had borrowed Uncle Jim Blizzard's big car as Ian's godparents, Uncle George and Aunty Beat, were with us too. All went well until we came to the hill at Monkhopton. The car just would not climb it. So Dad told us all to get out and walk up the hill whilst he put the car into reverse gear and ascended slowly. He never lost his cool and always knew what to do when cars broke down!
I don't remember much about the Christening, but I do remember playing croquet on the law after tea.
How Did He Know I Was There? - by Val Bowden
It was time to go. Dad strapped the luggage on to the boot and we all got into the car. I had a nice warm blanket to put over my knees, there were no heaters in cars in those days. We are off to spend Christmas with Granny and Grandad Green at Abdon.
It was a cold day and as we left the industrial areas around Birmingham and Wolverhampton behind the snow began to fall. By the time we reached Bridgnorth the snow was falling fast so progress was slow. Out in the open countryside we climbed Monkhopton slowly.
Further along Dad stopped the car and said "I'd better put the chains on before it gets any worse." Even with the chains on the slippery conditions were a little scarey but Dad was a skilful driver and now and again our little Austin skidded a little on the narrow country lands bounded on either side by huge banks of snow on the hedgerows.
What worried me more that day was not the journey but the fact that when I saw Father Christmas in Lewis' store in Birmingham I never told him I was going to Abdon, what about my presents?!!
Eventually we arrived. Granny and Grandad were pleased to see us. A blazing fire and hot drink soon warmed us up and then I saw the tree. Grandad had planted a fir tree in a huge tub. Dangling from the branches were fir cones painted in bright colours and other homemade decorations. Also among the branches were red candles in special holders that clipped onto the tree. At the top was a fairy with a silver wand.
The room was decorated with holly and other greenery from the garden. When it was darker Grandad lit the candles on the tree. Granny lit the oil lamp and turned it down low, and with the glow from the fire the effect was quite magical.
Bed time came all too soon, so it was up the stairs carrying the flickering candle and into the cosy bed. Mum said "You had better hang your stocking up as it is Christmas Eve." This I did but at the back of my mind was the thought "How will he find me?".
The next morning I awoke. "Hurry, he's been!" My stocking was full of little gifts, walnuts, half a crown, sweets, beads, crayons and there are the foot of the bed was a life size baby doll that you could really put in the bath.
Yes, Father Christmas had been, but to this day I will never know the answer to my question: "HOW DID HE KNOW I WAS THERE???"
Meals at the Old Rectory - by Val Bowden
In years past Granny Green used to cater for parties on the Old Rectory lawn in Abdon. One group so catered for was the All England Cycling Club. Granny also used to sell cigarettes from the house and I used to take the money. I can still remember some of the farm workers who came to the door, especially Cyril Rudd. I went to their cottage to play with his daughter Christine. His wife's name was Daisy. To get to their cottage you went down a field near where the road bends to the right to go to the church and almost straight on to Tugford. From what I remember there was a brook or stream at the end of the garden as we played with some stones in the water.
The Old Rectory had no electricity so oil lamps and candles were used. The radio was powered by an accumulator, it couldn't have been a very strong signal as Grandad had to kneel right down by it on the floor to listen.
Water for washing and cleaning etc. came from some big water butt, but drinking water came from a tap in the dingle. A spring had been piped from somewhere. The water only trickled through. A bucket was left there in the morning and was just about full by the evening, and another was left to fill overnight for the morning.
In the back kitchen was a big brick built copper which Granny heated by lighting a fire underneath. There was also a dolly tub in the little courtyard by the back door. Granny didn't have a washing line, but spread the washing over bushes etc. in the orchard or on a big clothes horse.
I used to fetch milk from Lower House, I can also remember bottles of milk with cardboard tops. When these ran out we had evaporated milk in our tea. This, combined with the fact that the water had boiled in a kettle by or over the fire so the tea tasted smoky, was not over pleasant to drink. No wonder I preferred drinking chocolate! I can remember having this with bread and Cheshire cheese.
The building which is now Rectory Cottage was then the coach house/stable. It was divided into three. The part nearest the house had very big doors and Grandad kept the animal feed and all his tools and wood there. The next section had a stable door and there was always a pig living there. In the next one, also with a stable door, I think lived the chickens. I was discouraged from going in there. Granny used to take a big basket of eggs to Peachey's every week to sell. The hay loft was over this part and the ladder was leant up to the hatch around the corner.
Plenty of food was grown in the garden. Fruit and vegetables, damsons and some apples we called 'sheep snout apples' due to their shape. In the kitchen there were always big flitches of bacon hanging from the ceiling. I can't remember much about the meals, but they must have been very good!
Michael "Ginger" Jones lived in Abdon from 1956 to 1963.
A Winter to Remember - by Michael "Ginger" Jones
"I lived on the hillside when I was a young lad of 9 years old at Spring Cottage, when it was a 'cottage'. My parents moved there from Smethwick and what a culture shock that was! From gas, electricity and running water to our own water supply from a spring (hence the name), parafin and calor gas. I went to school in Burwarton and then Ludlow Secondary Modern and, from 13, Ludlow Grammar School. We returned to Smethwick when I was 16.
We moved into Spring Cottage on December 5th 1956 and then experienced a winter I will never forget. My father and I went walking through the snow and the drifts were enormous, topped with a crust of hard snow. I tripped over what I thought was a stump of wood, but on investigation it turned out to be the top of a telephone post! This was just down the lane from the telephone box towards the school which is now the village hall.
I love the Brown Clee and the views it affords. I can remember earning a few coppers from picnickers guiding them up the hill, through the marshland to the trig post at the summit. I used to show them the debris of a plane that crashed in the war, in amongst the quarry spoils near to the summit. I went back a few years ago, but nothing remains.
Before returning to Smethwick we moved from Spring Cottage to No 3 Bent Lane. My father purchased it for £650, mainly because the chimney had fallen through the roof. Being in the building trade he had great plans of developing the property, which he did to some extent, but sadly when the Naval Base closed down there was no work to keep him there so we returned to Smethwick. I have so many happy memories of my childhood, it was lovely to see a website dedicated to Abdon.
I had to go to Ludlow on business recently and I couldn't resist a ride through Cockshutford and my old home. I was delighted to see the red phone box back in place. I can remember sheltering from snow and rain in the original one whilst waiting for the school bus."
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