Memories of Nether Winchendon

Fred Orchard of Nether Winchendon remembers how the postman walked from Waddesdon,starting at six o'clock in the morning and visiting all the farms on his way, thus considerably lengthening the journey of five miles. After a break lunch, he walked on to Cuddington to meet the pony cart bringing the mail, then back to Winchendon to clear the box at about four o'clock and back to Waddesdon, often in the winter in thick snow which seems to have fallen more frequently in those days.

The village people, with wooden yokes on their shoulders and two buckets, fetched all water from a conduit in the Manor farmyard, or for those on the hill, from a spring half way down. Fred recalls this was his first duty after school, both for his mother and a bedridden neighbour.

There were fifty to sixty children of all ages in the little school, the infants ranged in rows on a gallery. In Upper Winchendon the Rothschilds dressed the girls in red cloaks and round straw hats, and the boys in white jackets, belted and reaching nearly to the knees, and a peaked cap.

The lady living at the Manor Farm started the brass band which later joined with Cuddington to form the Robin Hood Band, so called because Lt. Col. Francis Bernard and Mrs Bernard of Nether Winchendon House provided them with uniforms of Lincoln green—thick green coat and green trousers with a red bib, which later was changed to red collar and cuffs, and a soft felt hat with a feather at one side. They used to play for two days after Christmas, and also at Club feasts and at the flower shows which were held in large tents in a field, and there was great rivalry among the four villages—Nether Winchendon, Cud­dington, Chearsley and Gibraltar. The wives of the bandsmen always sent an Aylesbury duck, dressed and trussed for the table.

Bertha Orchard remembers how in the 1914 war the children were given a holiday to pick blackberries which were weighed at school and then sent to make jam. They also gathered horse-chestnuts which were taken to a local farm to be ground down for cattle feed.

Mr Welford's carrier cart took people to Aylesbury but the journey was so slow that by the time you got there it was nearly time to come home again!

C. Archer, Cuddington

Extracted from ‘A Pattern of Hundreds’(1975) with the kind permission of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women’s Institutes

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