Memories of Whaddon

I was born Maria Hopkins in 1889, the youngest of Whaddon twelve children. There were many Hopkins in the village where ancestors had lived for at least four
hundred years. My mother, aged eighteen in 1862, walked, in pattens, from Aylesbury carrying my brother, a babe in arms. We lived in a bungalow at
Snelshall, where there was once a priory, for my father worked on a farm. At the age of five I started school at Whaddon, walking across the fields, unless
the floods were out, when we had to go round by Tattenhoe. There were a hundred children in the school, built in 1841, a long building, divided into three. The infants' room had desks raised on a gallery where we sat all day. Mr Marshall, the headmaster, was strict but kind and my school days were happy. I left at fourteen. We were taught manners and the three R's. As my mother came from Stratton Audley she could not do Bucks lace so I went with other girls to Mrs Clark to learn, sitting round a stool with a candle and a bottle of water to reflect the light.
Two of my sisters died of diptheria in one week.

We never had a holiday, but went on Sunday School and Band of Hope outings in a 'brake'. I met my future husband, Sidney Meacham from Newton Longville, on one of these excursions to Claydon House.

The first Christmas tree I saw at school was given by the lady at the 'Big House'. I was disappointed with the steel bead bag that was given to me!
I was a founder member of Whaddon WI in 1936.
A cousin was a hurdle maker and his son has his old tools with queer names like a 'frommer'.

Many words are no longer used. The fields—now joined together—had lovely names like 'The Pightle', 'The Big Fodderer', 'The Mutton', 'Hog's Piece' and "The Canals'.

Words connected with farming we used every day were thave (a sheep), yealm (a straw measure for thatching), ennus (hen house), cow us (cowshed), yo(eye), housen (plural of house), tis-sacky (poorly), muckle (manure), hummocksing (plodding), thribble (triplet lambs), cherry cud (a cow's first milk), a boy chap (big boy), Grampy (grandpa).

The corn and hay were cut with scythes and then tied by the binder; and we all went gleaning to feed our hens. We took Dad's 'baver' to the field to him, probably a Buckinghamshire clanger (a suet roll with bacon at one end and jam at the other) with home made beer.

Maria Meacham , Whaddon

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

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