(As published in Bawburgh News: September 2005 and September 2015)
Photo with thanks to John Rickett. Ambrose Chambers, his maternal grandfather, taken in 1937 in Church Street. Shows Flint Cottages prior to restoration.
Photo from Percy Garrod archives. Ambrose and Emily Chambers. Wow, what a fine moustache he sports - together with 3-piece suit, bow-tie, watch on chain and homburg (rather than trilby?
The Chambers spent their time before Bawburgh in Weston Longville and Marlingford. It is thanks to an article written by their daughter Kathleen, that there is a legacy of family history. Kathleen came to Bawburgh School, whilst living in Marlingford, when the Jacksons were in situ, and remembered the Rev. Gabriel Young at Church, and his daughters, Helen and Margery. They moved with their four children to keep the shop in Church Street in Bawburgh in the 1940s.
The shop (now Chapel View) had been the Post Office, when previously kept by Alice and Robert Brown, but this was transferred to Post Office Stores (New Road) in 1937. Ambrose and Emily lived at the shop with their four children: Christopher, William, Violet (John's mother) and Kathleen (his aunt who brought him up following Violet's death).
Their daughter Kathleen (married to Cyril) Browne continued Church Stores until it was sold to Roy Robinson in 1960, and it continued to be a grocery shop until 1979. In 1960 Kathleen moved to Stonelea, a bungalow in Harts Lane until she moved to Wymondham in 1976.
Ambrose died in 1948 aged 76, and Emily in 1952 aged 80 after suffering from dementia. She was nursed until her death by Kathleen.
So whilst the Chambers were in Church Street, Eva Dobson and Basil Cannell shared the decade at the butcher's shop in Harts Lane, and Sydney Broughton delivered milk from Little Melton. Mary Harman was landlady at The Cock, and Billy Johnson at the Kings Head. Rev. Frost and Rev. Davies shared the decade at the Church, and Mr Jack Steed was Headmaster at the School.
John's story 'growing up in Bawburgh' (Bawburgh News March 2013):'
My move to Bawburgh in 1953 was due to unfortunate circumstances. My father died in 1948 when I was only two years old and I carried on living with my mother Violet in Surrey until she also passed away in 1953. My mother had asked her sister Kathleen (nee Chambers) to look after me on her death. So at the age of 7 years, I moved into Church Stores, Bawburgh, to live with Aunt Kathleen and Cyril Browne (her husband). Aunt Kathleen had married quite late in life and Cyril was 12 years older than her so I think it was as traumatic for them to have a young boy in their lives as it was for me to lose my mother. My mother had worked in service and was a professional cook so I had been spoiled with regards to food. My first meal in Bawburgh was stewed hare.
On reflection, I believe that in 1953, I was seeing the end of old village life. The village had two shops: Church Stores and the Post Office which was a general store, a working mill and two public houses: The Cock and The King's Head. There was a village policeman, and a part-time fish and chip shop. I seem to remember the Hall was still occupied but in a poor state of repair. The Blacksmiths opposite the village green was busy and there was the egg packing station at the top of Harts Lane.
I went to Bawburgh School. My aunt was a friend of Mr Steed who was the Headmaster and it was fun to visit as they had a pet monkey who was very good at turning on the water taps to drink but did not have the inclination to turn them off! Mr Steed retired shortly after I arrived, which I hope I was not responsible for, and Miss Stannard replaced him. I only spent a short time at Bawburgh School before moving on to Langley but have fond memories.
Church stores only had an outside toilet and water came from a well with a hand pump in the kitchen with cooking done on a paraffin stove. Next door some of the houses in Child's terrace had a similar lack of facilities, and were without electricity or running water. We never had a television or telephone but did spend time listening to the radio. Aunt was very strict and Sundays was my worst day of the week. I had to wear my best clothes and often attended church twice. I was in the choir along with Terry Stephens, my best friend, and Jenny Seaman and Sylvia Ramsay. John Lofty was our organist. He was a very good musician and had his own band and also reared pigs. He was not the best of time keepers as we often were all dressed in our surplises and ready to march up the aisle but no organist had appeared! There would then be a loud squeal of brakes as John pulled up in his old Landrover and you could hear him running down the path in his wellies. He would burst into the church with the smell of pigs a few feet behind him as I started to pump the bellows and away we would go. Pumping was not without its hazards as one had to keep the brass weight below a mark. Should this not be achieved, the organ sounded a bit like a set of bagpipes with a puncture. At the end of the service, John would play a pop tune but in slow tempo. The vicar would often say he had not heard that hymn before. Perhaps Sundays was not so bad after all.
Aunt and Uncle retired in 1962, selling Church stores and purchasing a piece of land opposite the old Cock public House where they built a small bungalow and where I lived till I joined the Royal Navy.
The river played quite a big part in the life of us youngsters. Just about every boy fished, and if I caught anything big enough, it was eaten. In Summer, the village green would be busy and we all learnt to swim in the river, starting in the shallows and ending up in the mill pool with the bravest either jumping or diving off the bridge. Summer holidays were long and the sun always seemed to shine. We would bike for miles, leaving home early and not getting back until late evening.
As we got into our teens, we were all motor bike mad. Someone or other would obtain an old motorbike for a few pounds, which we would then wheel up to the showground track on the Marlingford Road and ride until it fell to pieces