Memories of Cuddington

I was born in 1907 and brought up in the lovely old village of Cuddington. At school I was taught reading, writing and arithmetic. We girls were also taught sewing and the boys were taught gardening.
We were a very large family, and lived in a small cottage where the village hall now stands. My parents slept in one of our two bedrooms, and all the brothers and sisters slept in the second bedroom, four or five in one bed, some at the top and some at the bottom of the bed. By the morning some of us would be under the bed.

We had one living room and a small scullery. There was no sink and water had to be drawn from the well which was halfway up the garden. The old earth closet was up the other side of the garden. Cooking was done on an open fire. There was no electric light; we used candles and an oil lamp.

We had a large garden planted with vegetables, and Father had an allotment where he grew potatoes and greens which kept us going through the winter.
Father worked on a farm, and in the summer we had to take him his tea when he was haymaking and harvesting, sometimes having to walk a few miles across the fields. Mother was a very busy woman, and she would be called out any time of the day or night to deliver somebody's baby; she was a sort of local midwife, and when she had a little one of her own, she had to take it with her. She was also called out if someone died, to perform the necessary duties.

In the school holidays, we used to play down at the mill and paddle in the millpond, and play in the meadows and make daisy chains. We found all kinds of wild flowers – cowslips, ladysmocks, orchids (which we used to call King Fingers) and lovely quaking grasses.

We didn’t have any luxuries; no Easter eggs, or toys at Christmas, no birthday cards, but we were quite happy and contented. There were always a lot of gipsies around and on Sunday mornings one would come with his barrel organ and monkey and play in the street.

We had a brass band in the village, and they paraded around the village at holiday time. We had a Village Feast once a year in May, with swings, roundabouts, coconut shy and stalls – in all a great occasion.

Our village had a post office, a grocer's and a butcher, and when we came out of school we would watch the butcher kill the pigs in the yard and burn them on straw. The butcher would then throw the pigs’ toenails across the road, and we would all scramble to get one to chew. They tasted delicious.

Article written by members of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes for the publication "Buckinghamshire Within Living Memory" (1993) and reproduced here with their permission