Memories of Padbury

My great-uncle Rees Rees lived in Padbury one hundred years ago. Rees Rees emigrated to Bucks from Wales, living for a little while at Piltch Farm, Adstock, before moving to become a tenant of All Soul's College, Oxford, at Manor Farm, Padbury.

At the age of seven my father, James James, came to live with him and luckily the housekeeper at Manor Farm was a kindly Welsh lady known to all as Margaret. It must have been very bewildering for a small boy to start life afresh and to learn a new language, as the only language he could speak was Welsh.
As he grew older he soon became immersed in the life at Manor Farm and under the tutelage of his uncle learned all about the ways of a dealer because that was the chief interest of Rees Rees.
Rees Rees purchased horses and cattle from small farms in Wales and these would be brought up by road to Padbury by drovers; incidentally, these drovers were put up at the New Inn at a charge of threepence per night but had to wash under the pump in the yard. The horses were unbroken and were shod by the Padbury blacksmith, Mr Sam Kirtland, and then were taken to the various horse fairs all over the country at Barnet, Stow-on-the-Wold, Banbury and Deddington.
Rees Rees did not have a bank account until he was quite an old man with failing eyesight, all the deals being made in gold sovereigns.
He was noted for his horses and was an accomplished driver. His ability to drive fact stood him in good stead when, in addition to farming at Padbury, he also became tenant of land at Stowe Park and on the Claydon Estate.
In those days none of the products of harvest were wasted, even the chaff being used with chopped mangolds to feed the cows. The mangolds were put through a machine which was turned by a handle. The cows were of course milked by hand in buildings surrounding the yard. After the milk had been strained, cooled and put into churns it was taken by horse-drawn float to Padbury station where it was put on the eight o'clock train to London.
The activities at the station were conducted under the watchful eye of the stationmaster, a notable character called Mr Ambler who was later to be presented by the residents with a gold watch for fifty years' service to the village. When the leading citizens of Padbury, Mr and Mrs Gore Langton from the Lodge, used the station on their journeys to London, on arrival in their resplendent carriage they were met by Mr Ambler who always wore a top hat on these occasions.
Rees Rees also brought sheep up from Wales. These were small and long tailed and were a constant source of friction among the neighbouring farmers as they could get through very small gaps in hedges. In early summer the sheep were taken to Thornborough Mill to be washed in the river, in order to enhance the value of the wool. Then came the sheepshearing which always took place in hot weather, it being easier to shear them when the grease from their body was present in the wool.
After shearing, the sheep were taken to a sheep dip situated by a pond adjoining some buildings called 'Dog Kennel' a little way down the Thornborough road.
The most important animals on the farm were the horses as they were involved in most of the activities.
Pig-killing days were events of importance. After the pig had been killed by a local slaughterer who journeyed round the various farms, it was immersed in a wooden tank filled with boiling water and all the hair was scraped off by means of an implement like a candlestick. The carcass was hung up for a day before being cut up into sides and hams, the immediate products being pork pies, faggots, brawn and chitterlings. The 'leaf and spare fat were rendered down into lard. The bladder was eagerly sought after by the local boys as, blown up and dried, it made a splendid football. The main part of the pig and the hams were placed in leads in the cellar and were immersed in brine for some weeks before being hung up to dry.
Later, when I was living at Manor Farm, I found candle-making equipment up in the attic.

Margaret Crook, Padbury

In August 1924 I left Padbury School at the age of fourteen and started work at Manor Farm for Mr James James. I began as general odd job boy.
Hours at Manor Farm were from 7 am to 5 pm six days a week. My wages were seven shillings a week with any overtime at threepence an hour. For the first two weeks my mother let me keep the seven shillings to buy a pair of strong boots, for ten shillings. After this I gave my mother half my wages each week.
When the harvest  was  finished muck carting started, clearing all the muck from the yards to the fields. When this job was done ploughing began. I was then 'plough boy', driving a team of four horses for the ploughman. My ploughman, Jim Picketts, was a good-tempered man and I loved working with horses. We were at plough from 8.30 am to 2.15 pm with fifteen minutes lunch break. This was because Jim was also a milker.
With ploughing and drilling finished, the next job was mangold-pulling for winter feed for the cattle. When winter came I was set to work with the cowman, Will Salmons, who was a wonderful man with cows.
In my second year I was promoted to milk cart driver, and after my morning jobs round the cows were finished I was set to collect the eggs, clean the hen houses, get in wood and coal for the Missus and any other odd jobs around the house. Eventually I became a regular milker which meant starting at 6 am seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year as there were no paid holidays in those days. Still, even without holidays we were happy in our work.
I was a regular milker until I was eighteen and then I began to get annoyed when my mates were all dressed up on Sunday afternoons, so I left the farm.

Member's husband, Padbury

Extracted from 'A Pattern Hundreds' (1975) and reproduced with the kind permission of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes

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