Memories of Ashendon

Until just before the First World War, Ashendon was a completely agricultural village. About that time, the first farmworker broke away from that way of life to work on the railway, and this caused a stir.

There were and still are seven farms in Ashendon with eight to ten men working on each. Farm workers were very proud of the farms they worked on and there was a friendly rivalry between them. It used to be customary for the men to meet in the evenings to compare the day's happenings and to boast of their achievements. They had great pride in their work.

Farmers brewed their own beer in large quantities as it was part of the men's wages. They had beer mid-morning, beer with their lunch and beer at tea-time. The more they had the better they worked. The mower had a pint at 4 am before starting work. Probably a hundred gallons of beer was drunk by each man a year. At haymaking they had a pint between each load and at night there was free access to the cellar. Despite this they were always fit and ready for work the next morning.

As in most villages, there was the annual Feast which was the great event of the year. It usually took the form of sports with a good feed afterwards and was always held on the first Tuesday in May. The farmworkers were given the day off as a paid holiday for this occasion. They usually took the next day off as well, to recover.

Molly Boughton, Ashendon

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

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