Memories of Ivinghoe


My father's family, the Seabrooks, were living in Ivinghoe in 1559 and we are the first names in the Church Register. I was born in 1893. 

Mrs Henry Mann Roberts of The Brewery House was in charge of the Land Army in our district in 1917 with Headquarters at Town Farm where the girls were lodged.
One day Mrs Roberts called a meeting in the Town Hall, Ivinghoe, and brought with her to the meeting a Mrs Alfred Watt from Canada. Mrs Watt told us all about the Women's Institutes in Canada and explained how necessary it was for country and village women to help each other and make the best of the things they grew. After the meeting, Mrs Watt asked me if I would try and get the women of Ivinghoe, Pitstone and Ivinghoe Aston to form a Women's Institute at Ivinghoe. This was done in 1917 with great enthusiasm and I became the first Secretary. Unfortunately the minute books were lost and the present first minute book was written from memory by Mrs Roberts of Ivinghoe Manor who in 1919 became President, and remained so for about seventeen years.

We made rugs and carpets from wool called thrums, gloves, childrens clothes, knitted socks, and jams and pickles. Mrs Henry Mann Roberts also started a rug making class in the Town Hall, and her workers made a carpet for Queen Mary.

Straw plaiting was quite a big thing in Ivinghoe at that time, the women and even some men plaiting the straws or 'splints' into yards of material with which to make straw hats. When a score of plait was done, it was taken down to Sair Jane's cottage (Miss Sarah Jane Cook) who used to get it all ready for the hat manufacturers who came each week from Luton to buy the work. In the early days the women used to give their babies paregoric in water so that they would sleep for a long time and not disturb the plaiters.
Many of the men worked at Roberts & Wilson's Brewery next door to the church. The brewery was bought in 1927 by Benskins of Watford and closed and pulled down. The Brewery House is now a Youth Hostel with over eight thousand hostelers staying there each year.
Other Ivinghoe men worked on farms, some of them having to walk right up to Ashridge to Lord Brownlow's lovely home. Houses were half-a-crown a week and wages from fifteen shillings a week upwards.

Our beautiful church had a set of very old hand bells and the Church Council lent them to the WI. Miss Marjorie Hartop taught us how to ring them and we had great fun ringing at Christmas parties for the WI and the Church. We had a lovely peal of bells ringing every Sunday. Now the tower is not safe so the bells can only be rung at the festivals.
Sir Bernard Miles
 often spoke of Ivinghoe in his King of the Chilterns series on TV as he once lived at Ivinghoo Aason as it was then called.
The old vicarage at Ivinghoe was once a coaching house.

Madge Dollimore (Aged 82), Ivinghoe & Pitstone

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


Childhood Memories of Ivinghoe & Pitstone 1939-1945
Doris & Leon Hawkins

It was September 3rd 1939.I, Doris, was nearly 7 years old, Leon was aged 10 years. Both of us attended Ivinghoe old school.

The war started, so we had an extra two weeks Summer holiday. That was because the evacuees were arriving from London and to get them settled into village homes. The Vicar, Reverend Hulbert and our Headmaster, Mr Saunders, helped sort out the children who were to live in our homes. I had two girls to share my bedroom, some stayed to the end of the war but others got homesick living without their parents. The Vicar had a few boys to live at the Vicarage, and quite a few lived at the Youth Hostel.
A master called Mr Feeland and a teacher, Miss Holmes came with them from London. Mr Feeland had a class down at the chapel, they would come up to the Lawn for playtime.

Lee said the London boys and village boys got fighting, they made camps down the bridle path. The Vicar said "you want to fight, come to the Town Hall and have a boxing match". So chairs were put around and rope to make a ring, they bad a real match, gloves on etc, but they all ended up friends and all would go to the Vicarage for film shows.
(I don't remember the girls fighting)!

We left school at 14 unless you passed an exam for the Cedars School in Leighton Buzzard. In the summer you could have 20 half days off of school to help the farmers with their harvest. I always went fruit picking. I picked plums.
Farmers were short of men, as all the young ones had to go to War and some of the older men went into the Home Guard (Dad's Army).

My Dad was out one or two nights a week as he had a day job at Vauxhalls in Luton. There they made Churchill tanks and the big army lorries. It was bombed one time but soon repaired and work carried on.
We were all issued with a gas mask and had to take it everywhere with us.

At the 'Lawn side' of our school, an air raid shelter was built, it was a square brick building, no windows. It was open each end and had no door. It was divided into five separate rooms, wooden forms to sit on. If a siren went off we all had to march to our own classroom in the shelter. I cannot remember sitting there for long in the dark.

We were very lucky in the villages, as it was the big towns where the factory's were, that bombs were dropped.
So to be safe, the Kings Royal coach was kept at Lord Rosebery's mansion at Mentmore.

Everything was on ration. You had books of coupons for petrol, clothes, sweets, tin food. Things like sugar, tea, butter, lard, cheese, meat were only allowed a few ounces a week. You had to register at one shop only and could only shop there. Sweet coupons you could use anywhere, but that was like a bar of chocolate or a bag of sweets a week.

I remember my mum taking the cream off the top of the milk for a few days then adding a pinch of salt, putting it into a screw top jar and shake it for quite a time until it formed a little lump. Also any fruit you had you made into jam.
We liked going up into the hills and picking the wild raspberries.

Everyone was expected to grow their own vegetables in their gardens, if your garden was not big enough you had an allotment. There was some allotments on the corner opposite the old school called Dog Kennel Gardens, a few around past the church known as Townsend Gardens, others were all in Ladysmith Road to the top of Wellcroft.

In 1945 nobody wanted to dig anymore, so houses were built - Maud Janes Close was a field, it was known as "Mad Janes". We used to play there, then across the field to a spring to get clean fresh watercress.

At night it was very dark., no street lights. Vehicles had very dim lights, no beam - just had to shine down in front. Houses had to have black out curtains at the windows to pull when the lights were on, you must not show a bit of light - if you did – a policeman or a guard would hit on your door. Lights could attract German planes.

One evening between 8 and 9pm, when a bad raid was on in London, I was with my mum and dad looking over the top of the Youth Hostel towards London, the sky was glowing with falling shrapnel and fires, the sky was filled with smoke and was very red.

I also remember one hot summers afternoon being along Marsworth Road to the bakers (now Masons) looking across the big field towards London, we were told there was a 'dog fight' our fighter planes vs. German fighter planes. They were diving in and out, up and down, but really us village children had no idea what it was really like.
When more London children came, some of their mothers told us how every night they would have to go to an air raid shelter or the underground stations and sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag - our evacuees would know if a German plane went over - they knew the different sound of the engines.

A few stray bombs did drop around in the field and hills. One evening there was a loud whistle, two London girls
were scared, "that's a bomb" they said, then boom a bomb had landed near the canal when the Germans were going home and had not dropped all their bombs in the city, they were emptying out before they crossed over the North Sea back to Germany.

When this happened Lee said the boys would go the next day and pick up bits of metal from the bombs - they were very proud of their trophies!

There was no such thing as being bored when we were children and we were to young to worry about the war unless your dad or brothers were in it. We would be out all day playing when not at school.

It was so safe then, no bad things to happen to you. We would take a picnic down the Bridle Path as far as the Spinney, or on our bikes up to Pitstone Hills (before the Quarry), and play in a little wood and pick the wild strawberries. It was called Statnells.

I lived in Vicarage Lane. We would play skipping, top & whip, lots of ball games, like throwing it up the wall (which was the Vicarage garden wall), hopscotch in the road. There was no traffic then. We would be out until our parents called us in for bed. No TV only a radio.

If the weather was bad, we stayed in and played dominoes, cards, board games, our parents would play with us.
During playtime in school, the Headmaster, Mr Saunders, would play either football or cricket with the big boys and Miss Tapping played the same with the smaller boys. Mr Saunders was Captain of one team, so if they let his side win they got a longer playtime, he did not like to lose - if he did it was back in school - playtime over.
Lee says he has climbed up everything and been up every big tree around the Lawn.

Boys made trolleys using old wheels, with a board across, and some rope. All the boys set off from the Kings Head and raced down the hill in Station Road. They would also have an old bike wheel with a stick and race around the village hitting it. Us girls thought the boys were all mad!

At school the cane was used on the boys and anything could be thrown at them if they deserved it. It was never used on girls. Lee had the cane a few times, once when he cut a girls hair - he had a pair of grass clippers, as the boys were going out into the school garden, but Joan sitting in front of him needed a hair cut (so Lee thought) so clip, clip clip!!! Her hair was cut!
Our Milkman was Mr Harwell from Cheddington, with his horse and cart, he had no bottles, but two or three large churns. He would come to the door with a can with a lid on, you would give him your jug and tell him how much you wanted (1 pint - 2 pints etc). It was rich and creamy. Also the baker with a horse and cart would come round. A small lorry would come with fizzy drinks, Tizer and Corona.

I lived near the Rose and Crown and would see beer barrels being delivered on a long cart and pulled by a very large cart horse. Lee used to be a delivery boy (Granville) from Elliott's shop after school and on Saturdays. He had a bike with a big basket on the front, all loaded up he would bump along the Bridle Path to Ivinghoe Aston. His first delivery was to Bernard Miles at Crabtree, he and his wife were actors in London. They would cycle to Tring Station everyday and not come home until the last midnight train. I remember him doing a show in the Town Hall (or connections with The Mermaid Theatre)

We had no rubbish collection them. We had to take it up to the Ragpit which was just at the bottom of Beacon Road on the left. I had a truck for our rubbish and took it up there then return and take another truck load for an elderly lady next door. Lee made lots of journeys on Saturday mornings to get enough money to go the Tring Regal Cinema, ,he'd earn as much as half a crown, (12.5p) you were rich! - this got you bus fare, cinema and even a bun in the local cafe!
But we did not have much rubbish as lots of it was ashes. Everyone had a fire and cooked on it as well, so it was only the odd jam jar or tin. Nothing was in packets, everything was weighed and put in paper bags.

In those days there were no swimming pools so some children went down the canal. I remember Lee and friends jumping of the bridge (showing off) then when a barge came along they would hold on to the toe rope. The bargee people would empty a bucket, the boys soon let go as they thought it was wee. It was dirty water then and it is now –I would never get in it.
We had a search light on the comer of Albury Road. One of many scanning the sky at night. At the bottom of Beacon road there was a Pill box that had three guns in it, one pointing up the Beacon Road, one towards Ivinghoe and the other up the Tring Road, these belonged to the Home Guard.

We had the Irish guards whose camp was at the Youth Hostel and the cookhouse was at the Old Mill House Yard (opposite Brookmead). They used to practice on the Lawn, they would pull their field guns across the Lawn and fire blanks out across the fields. They had a rifle range up the hills and would practice with all sorts of ammunition, also they had Brengun carriers up at the Beacon.

An aerodrome was built at Marsworth. The long runway went from Marsworth to Cheddington,ending not far from the canal and railway line. Our Air force boys were there with the 'Lancaster Bombers' and 'Wellington Bombers'.
After that the USA Air force were there with their aircraft the 'Liberator' and the 'Flying Fortress'. They all came very low over here, you would think they would hit the railway line. One did crash one morning about 5am near the canal in my Grandad's field (Ford End Farm). They used to take off every night to bomb in Germany, so this one was just returning home.

When the boys were 14 years old, they joined the Army Cadets. Lee was one. They had a proper uniform and a Canadian Ross rifle, they took everything home with them and were very proud of their equipment and enjoyed being with the Army, also having their meals in the cookhouse. When food was rationed they done very well on big 'fry-ups' - for them great enjoyment was going up into the hills with the soldiers with the Brengrun carriers and going for a week or fortnight camping near High Wycombe, where there was a very large camp. One night, when Lee was on night guard there, a Doodle bug came over, he found this very frightening.

In 1945 the war was eventually declared over, flags were put up and there were parties and free beer in the Town Hall. You had to take your own glass though and some even took jam jars!!

By the Summer of 1946 all the beaches were cleared so everyone could now take a holiday at the seaside. Unfortunately it took up to five years until sweets were taken off rationing.
We married in 1953.


Reminisces of an Ivinghoe Lady

I was born in Wellcroft in Ivinghoe, the daughter of Herbert & Ethel Bierton.
My first memory is of me being in a pushchair going down past what is now the Youth Hostel. At that time it was the home of Mr Robert's Family. The Brewery was still working, I cannot remember much. There was a chimney near the churchyard with all the sheds and Buildings.
I also remember a little piglet running around they must have bowled for the pig. There was also a band playing.

I started school when I was four (1928) I was not very good. My mother used to yank me up the road. The teacher Miss Stream used to meet us at the big school door, grab hold of me and bang the door shut. Once I was there I loved it.
I was given a tray of sand, and used to make my letters in it. Moving on from that I was given a slate board to write, Soon after I was given paper & pencil. (Before I went to school my mother taught me to write on paper with a pencil.)
We had to wear a pinafore to keep our clothes clean: I also had pigtails and often lost the ribbon in my hair.
We played in different playgrounds boys at front girls at the back.
We moved on to Miss Frost’s class where we were taught joined up writing and used a pen.
After school anyone going to Pitstone carried her books to her home and carried them back in the morning; you just did it there was no arguing back. We moved on to Miss Delamont's class, she taught drawing and painting she also carried on with English and Arithmetic and all the general subjects. We all got a good general education.
We had to behave ourselves and we had respect for our teachers. No one answered back. If you were told off it was no good going home complaining to your mother. You would get another telling off.
We eventually moved on to Mr Saunders who taught Class 5 and 5+, which was for the elite. I left school at age 14 years.

We had Playtime on the lawn. Mr Saunders took older boys for football in winter and cricket in the summer; the girls had Netball in winter and Stall ball in summer. The middle class played Rounders one afternoon a week.
Mr Saunders took the boys gardening in the garden where the Scout Hut is now.
The girls had needlework with Miss Frost; thanks to her I can still thread a needle.
I remember making a boy’s shirt Miss Frost helped me with some of it and it was entered in a competition in Aylesbury, I was not told about it till afterwards

Before I leave school days behind I remember about 1930 we had a diphtheria outbreak in the school and it was closed for 3 months.
It was very bad Joyce Halsey died and all the family were in the fever Hospital at Linslade. We all marched up to church for her funeral.
It was sad because her mother and father could not be there. Every day children were taken away to hospital.
Bill my brother and I escaped. My mother made us gargle every night with condes- fluid or some such name it was mauve and horrible. I think it saved us.
Our family moved into Station Road and was good friends with a neighbour Olive Cox. We used to watch Ivinghoe & Pitstone Football Team play in the field opposite our home.

In the evenings we played ball games in the street. There were no cars around and only about four lorries would come by going to Leighton Buzzard Marley Tile Factory.
I can remember the road being made; Mr Cox was night watchman. We used to gather round his fire and roast potatoes and eat them under a beech tree, which sadly is no longer there anymore

We went to church Sunday Morning and afternoon Sunday School and Church in the evening, My father and Bill sang in the Choir my father was in the choir for fifty years his family did a lot of work for the church.
Rev Hulbert the vicar used to have “ Kings Messengers” every week it was like a club but it was held at the vicarage. He was a good vicar he tried to organise and help people. He took my confirmation at Wendover.
I took my first communion at Ivinghoe and I was married by him in 1943.

While still at school we had concerts in the Town Hall, In one of which I played Mrs Crochet in “Christmas Carol” the proceeds were used to take us on a day trip to Clacton, a favourite place of ours
A Sunday School Party was a trip up to Whipsnade once or twice and having tea there if funds permitted. At other times a picnic was held in the vicarage gardens which stretched down the left of Vicarage Lane past Wellcroft that was good fun and we were easily pleased.

I remember Mr Lightfoot the Caretaker of the Town Hall; selling sweets after the shops closed on Saturday night. Home made Humbugs Coconut Icing boiled sweets and chocolate. Dad bought mum a bar of chocolate an old aunt and us sweets about 6d a week a big spender!

The penny man Mr Farquar of Aldbury used to come Saturday at 1pm all dressed up in Riding Scarlet. He would drive into the Kings Head and then came out to give the children a penny if you had clean hands and face.
A Hetty King and Mr Barrack would also be there they gave two penny’s also for clean hands & face if you were not so clean you got a penny. I think that they enjoyed seeing the children’s faces light up.

Mrs Williamson shop next to the Kings Head did a roaring trade, everyone went straight in there, it would be a whole 5/- trade she would do.
Everyone worked on farms and then the cement works came and roads were made up. In those days people in the village helped each other.

The last Friday of the month a Court Day was held in the Town Hall Ivinghoe. It was also a Police station. There was a Police Sergeant a Mr King a rotund man living there who moved to Linslade and became an Inspector,
The Court also moved there. A P C Goldiman came here as replacement.

There were a few milkmen in the village. I can remember Ted Simmons coming round with cans of milk. Bert, Roger and Kiffy were another lot they would carry cans on their handlebars of the bikes. Mr Harrowell had a horse and Cart with a big milk crate on the back of the cart.
At 8am and 4pm we could get milk from the Kings Head after the milk stood for a day they would skim of the cream for the hotel and sold the rest, we got a pint for a penny. If Mrs Seabrook served us we got a pint & half for a penny but if Tommy the Cowman served it was a bare pint.

The Bakers used to come around with the bread Mr Turney’s of Manor Cottage and Mr Horwood up Grooms Yard in Vicarage Lane,
Turneys used to sell flour Maize all the animal foods, I can smell it now!
At weekends Mrs Horwood would cook cakes and dinners in the oven for villagers, after Mr Horwood had gone to Ivinghoe Aston delivering bread and cakes he had made.
Mrs Dollimore living next door to us would shout on me to take her cake, her meat and Yorkshire pudding to be cooked for a penny; it always cooked perfectly and sometimes I got a penny for myself. There was Howlett’s Bakery in Pitstone and he had a small delivery Van.

Another job I used to do for Mrs Dollimore was on Monday mornings go up to Mrs Rogers Tea Room next to the Town Hall collect the washing then on Tuesday lunchtime take it back freshly washed and ironed by Mrs Dollimore and my mother.
Mrs Dollimore used to make plait she had a roller in her barn and she used to wet the straw and put it through the rollers. I used to split the straw thick or thin which ever was required. My aunt who lived with us used do plaiting and it was rolled up loosely in 4yard lengths.
She also did beautiful crochet work she made a lovely Altar Cloth for the Church, it had drawn thread work on the cloth and edged it with lace.

When the war came we used to watch the son of the owners of the Bell pub who was a pilot in the RAF he would come over the field and loop the loop for his mum and dad. Everyone turned out to watch.
I was away as a nurse quite a lot only getting home on my days off.
In 1943 the Irish Guards were stationed in the Youth Hostel Grounds and Officers were in the Hostel. There were Tanks, gun carriers, lorries and all sorts of machines.
They all lined up by the Kings Head and Jane’s shop ready for manoeuvres on the Beacon.
George Pickering son of the Owner of the Kings Head was killed that day on a Bren Gun Carrier coming down the front of The Beacon. (What was he doing on it? he was an RAF test pilot.)
After the war I moved to Scotland with my husband and had my family there.
I later returned to the village with my family.

As recalled by Mrs Gwen Craigie nee Bierton to Les Laing.