In the wake of Mo and Arthur's visit (and they are coming back soon for photos) I have been thinking about the era in which they lived here, the 1950s when Mo was born, through to 1964 when they lost their home on the death of their father Gerald. Several occupancies later it is now our home, nineteen years ago last week since we moved in, but we know it also became quite dilapidated in the interim, losing much of its roof at some time too. Mo and I speculated about whether the house was actually ever lived in again after they were given notice to quit, and before it was eventually sold off by the estate, especially knowing that it needed big renovations in the late 1970s, and houses take time to degenerate. Lived in or vacant, wanted by someone else in 1964 or not, there was no question of them staying on out of charity, they were out.
Gerald (pictured here with Beatrice on their wedding day in May 1942) had worked at Leigh Barton, the Big House next to Endsleigh, but suffered from acromegaly and ankylosing spondylitis, becoming increasingly infirm and disabled after a fall whilst out hedging. He was eventually rendered almost immobile and housebound, and suffered badly from bronchitis dying in January 1964.
I think about the damp air, and how hard we work to keep it at bay in the winter months (and the summer sometimes) so how much harder it must have been for Gerald to battle with so many health issues. Mo says she wonders now how on earth her mum managed to care for all of them, and I wonder too. It is quiet and isolated here, off the beaten track even nowadays, facilities were limited, supplies intermittent unless delivered or fetched on foot from the shop two miles way.
As Mo recalled, and I remember this too, children were seen and not heard back in the day, knew better than to ask questions and would have been told little if they had. Parents' troubles were rarely shared with the children. They would have needed much fortitude, and talking to Mo it is clear the family had plenty of it, this was the way life was and they just got on and lived it...
'I think Mum did take everything in her stride. She had her work in the farm house at Leigh. I seem to think chicken was a treat when we were growing up. At Christmas Mum would bring home chickens from Leigh and pluck and draw them for the Blanchards. I used to help pluck them but wouldn’t draw them!!! I think we were always given a chicken then for Christmas dinner...'
and Beatrice had been a land girl..
So both part of that generation that knew a thing or two about resilience, and whilst Gerald's death was a blow for the family, it must have been a merciful release for him, and though the family had to leave they were certainly not broken.
All this may have been the last thought on the mind of anyone who lived here in 1964 because the community at large around the village had been in turmoil for some years... more about that in the next instalment.