Memories of Bovingdon Green

I came to live in Bovingdon Green in 1906, when my Bovingdon father went to work as head gardener at a large house Green called The Orchards, where they kept a carriage and a pair of lovely black horses. I was five years old at the time.
I went to Bovingdon Green village school where there were about eighty children with three teachers. It sounds quite a large school for such a small village, but families were big in those days; there were six children in my family and thirteen in another! Children used to come from outlying farms and cottages, some of them walking three to four miles each way. After the first war, the school was closed and the building unfortunately knocked down. A private house called School House, which still exists, was built on the site. The iron railings that surrounded the original school remain round the house.

There were about fifteen cottages around the village green and two pubs. The first one, the Royal Oak, beside the village pond, is still there and has not changed very much. At the other side of the green was the Jolly Cricketers which had a pretty garden where people sat sipping their drinks in the summertime. Parties used to travel out from London for the day in horse-brakes, bringing their food with them for what they called a 'bean-feast', which they washed down with beer from the Jolly Cricketers. I can remember them throwing pennies to us children which we hastened to spend at a cottage on the green, where the wife sold sweets which she produced from jars kept under her bed. They were 4 oz for one penny!

The Jolly Cricketers was later closed and became the village shop with a little post-office. This has now also gone. When I was a child there was no shop in the village, so if we wanted to visit the shops we walked the two miles into Marlow. But there was no need for this really as the baker, grocer and butcher called every day; also paraffin was brought to the door.

On Empire Day, 24 May, we danced round the Maypole on Bovingdon Green dressed in our white frocks, with the boys in white blazers.

I left school at fourteen and went to work at The Orchards. There were three gardeners and four staff in the house. I started in the kitchen and after some time was housemaid, parlourmaid and finished up as cook. We had plenty of work to do but were quite happy.

Jerome K. Jerome, who wrote Three Men in a Boat, lived in a house on Marlow Common, which is just beyond Bovingdon Green. I can remember going to tea at his house with my brothers and sisters.

Elsie Frith, Bovingdon Green

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

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