Welcome to

Mr and Mrs Joe Gard lived at Trixies Cottages, Drayford, they had eleven children, and this set of memories is of one of these children, namely George Gard.

Drayford is a Hamlet on the banks of the Little Dart River and the Adworthy Brook, and there were Twelve House's including Drayford Mill. The Mill had a slate roof, and all the other eleven properties had thatched roofs. All had outside toilets, eleven with buckets, one and earth closet. Eleven had open fire places, one and iron cooking range. All of the houses had ovens built into the side of the fire places for cooking purposes.

There was no mains water or electricity. There were wood, or iron bars, part way up the chimneys to hang chimney crooks on. The crooks were there to suspend iron kettles, boiling crocks, and iron boilers to be used for different occasions. Fires were of wood logs, and faggot of woods. Not every one had a Rick of Wood, hens or a pig. Lighting was an oil lamp or candle and candlesticks, whilst out of doors a hurricane lamp was used. Washing of Clothes was done with the aid of an iron boiler hanging over the fire, and a zinc bathe into which the washing would be transferred after it had been boiled in Soda water, and then to rinse it in some blue water to bring out the whiteness. To blue the water you used a cube of blue held in a piece of cloth.

People and their Work:

No. 1. Rock Cottage: Mr C Venner and family, Mr Venner was a Master Thatcher; he was also Superintendent of the Sunday school, whilst his daughter ran a small shop.

No. 2. Rock Cottage: Mr J Tanner and his wife. Mr Tanner was second horseman employed by Mr H Smyth of Town Farm, Worlington. Mr Tanner was also Captain of the Bell Ringers, and his wife cleaned the East Worlington Church.

Stuckey was occupied by a Devon County Council Small Holding Tenant, Mr J Chudley and his family. Mr Chudley was also a contractor to the South Molton Rural District Council hauling stone from the local quarries to roadside depots.

Godswell was occupied by another Devon County Council Small Holding Tenant, Mr F Stoneman and his family. Mr Stoneman was a contractor to the South Molton Rural District Council hauling stone from the local quarries to roadside depots, and also quarrying the stone and cleaning the local water tables. The family were also rabbit trappers and sheep shearers. Each spring they would buy a piece of oak coppice in Pedley Wood, rip the bark from the felled saplings, and, when the bark was dry enough, it would be loaded onto wagons, then taken the ten mile journey to be delivered to Pearce's Tannery in East Street, South Molton.

No. 1 Hillside: Occupied by Mr H Lewis and Wife and son Charlie. Mr Lewis was a Farrier, and he also made his own ointment which he called 'Verdigrist' which was applied to animals after he had operated on them. Unfortunately I cannot remember the ingredients. When, after a dry spell the River began to rise, Mr Lewis would go Clatting. He had a large bunch of live worms attached to the end of a long pole. He would then dangle the bunch of worms in the river, and, upon feeling a tug on the pole he would lift the bunch from the water, hopefully to find an eel clinging to the worms. Just a shake would be sufficient to cause the eel to fall to the ground, whereupon he would gather it up and place it in a bucket with a lid, before carrying on to catch another, repeating the whole process. His son was employed at East Worlington Rectory.

No. 2 Hillside: was occupied by Mr J Leach and his son Jack. Mr J Leach was a widower and was employed by South Molton Rural District Council as a quarrying contractor, whilst his son Jack was employed by Mr E Hutchings of Witheridge, a builder.

No. 3 Hillside: Was occupied by a widow, Mrs G Butt and her daughter Rosie, who was a dressmaker, and also the organist at East Worlington Parish Church. Rosie married a Mr J Sanders from Chawleigh who was also employed by South Molton Rural District Council as a quarrying contractor, as well as being a Rabbit Trapper and a Sheep Shearer.

Drayford Mill: was a smallholding occupied by Mr Stoneman, the Miller, and his wife, as well as their son Dick. Dick had been badly wounded in France in the 1914-18 war, and had the fore part of his left leg shot away.

No.1 Trixie's Cottages: Tenant was Mr F Way and his family. Mr Way was an agricultural worker employed at Town Farm, East Worlington. He had served in the 1914 - 18 war and had been invalided out of the army.

No.2 Trixie's Cottages: Tenant was Mr W Way and his family. Mr Way was employed as the head horseman at Town Farm, East Worlington. His daughter Ivy was a dressmaker, apprenticed to Miss Churchill, Dressmaker of Witheridge.

No.3 Trixie's Cottages: Miss Jane Bradford Nott and her sister Elizabeth Bradford Nott. Jane was employed as Housekeeper to Mr A Cobley, a farmer at Sheepsbyre Farm, Chumleigh, whilst her sister Elizabeth was employed at the same farm as a general worker.

No.4 Trixie's Cottages: Tenant was Mr J Gard and his family. Mr Gard was a quarry and road contractor to South Molton Rural District Council, and also a chimney sweep. He had seen service in the Boer War and also the 1914-18 war.

Top of Page

Children: Most of the local children attended Sunday school at Thornham Methodist Chapel. A Char-a-banc took them for an outing by the sea. All children of school age attended East Worlington School, with all the Drayford Children going home for their midday meal, (there were no school meals in those days, and no school buses either). The headmaster was Mr Edmonds, whilst Mr Bulled was in charge of the infants. Mr Edmonds was also the organist at Thornham Chapel as well as being the Sunday School Superintendent. Sunday was a day of rest.

General: There were no such things as Refuse collections in places such as Drayford. Groceries were delivered from Witheridge. A Butcher delivered on Saturday, and bread was delivered six days a week, (Monday and Thursday) by Mr Churchill from Witheridge, (Tuesday and Friday) by Mr Whitfield from Witheridge, and (Wednesday and Saturday) by Mr Way from Morchard Bishop. Once a year some people would walk or ride cycles to Millbarn Farm, which was out towards Puddington, where a religious service was held on the banks of the River Dalch. At the end of the service, some people would come forward to be baptised fully submerged in the river. Newspapers were delivered by a man from Morchard Bishop riding a tricycle. The Western Times and also every Friday the Devon and Exeter Gazette, he also delivered a Sunday paper. Mr Kemp, a chimney sweep from Cadleigh, near Tiverton used to visit, and lodged in Witheridge. Mr G Batstone and his wife Betties from Molland Cross, Chumleigh, used to come round in their pony and trap selling a varied assortment of goods, and they also used to collect rabbit skin. There were a few roadsters that passed through from time to time, walking from Crediton Workhouse to South Molton Workhouse. There was also a gypsy, Mr Joe Taylor, who would call with clothes pegs etc.

Drayford Bridge: was used by local police force as a meeting place, with the Police Sergeant or constable from Witheridge meeting the constables from Black Dog and Meshaw to compare notes. In 1914 the Bridge was rebuilt and there is a name plate in the downstream wall of the bridge to this effect. Before the new bridge was built the Adworthy Brook was fordable, it used to flow into the Little Dart above the old bridge. When the new bridge was built the Adworthy Brook was bridged and diverted to flow into the Little Dart below the new bridge.

Coombe Quarry: in the 1920's Mr A Nott put in a stone crushing plant. The material was hauled where required by traction engines and ten ton trucks. The trucks had four iron wheels and caused a great deal of damage to the roads, which at that time were waterbound surfaced. Later the transport was replaced by steam wagons which had rubber tyres. Later still an overhead ropeway was put up to carry the materials to a site adjoining the A373, two or three hundred yards West of Newbridge. The stream adjoining Coombe Quarry was forded in the early 1920's; it was piped across the road.

Trixies Plantation: was felled in 1914-1916, and the timber used for Pit Props. The levelled part of this plantation was subsequently grubbed up in 1927 and put to agricultural use.

Doctors: the Doctor's surgery was at The Firs, in Witheridge.

Babies: mothers had their babies at home with the District Nurse from Witheridge in attendance.

The Mail: was usually delivered at around 6.30am After the postman had met the mail van from Morchard Bishop at the wooden hut on the roadside verge at Thelbridge, and which became known as "The Postman's Hut", the same postman with bicycle came with the outgoing mail from East Worlington Post Office to meet the mail van at the same hut. As the postman approached Drayford from East Worlington he would blow a whistle a few times to let the people know he had arrived, and would take any outgoing mail they had. At this time, 1920's, the postal address was Drayford, Morchard Bishop. A Telephone line came from Witheridge via Thelbridge Cross, down to Drayford, and then to the Post office at Boundy's Cross, East Worlington run by Miss Maude Boundy. There was difficulty in getting permission for the telephone poles to be erected. The two thin lines of copper attached to stoneware cups on the pole. The lines were put up in 1909. Mr Edmonds, the school master at East Worlington made the first call.

The Smithy: was closed down but the bellows were left on site along with the water trough. I know what happened to the trough, but not to the bellows.

The Saw Pit: was still in place in 1916, and was around twenty feet in length, and five or six feet wide, and had been partly filled in. After this date it was completely filled in.

Rock well: is set deep into the hillside, and is about three feet deep with lovely clear cold water. It never ran dry, unlike most other wells, and newts were often in residence.

The Clock Face: this was the trade mark of a Mr William Bradford; maker of Brass dialled Oak Longcase Clocks 1760/70. Baptism in the Witheridge Parish Register 1776 'include to Bradford, William, son of William Clockmaker'. A photo is available of the clock face showing the house to which it is attached. I have a Longcase clock made by William Bradford of Drayford. It is dismantled, the case being in need of some repair; otherwise it is in working order.

The Road: it was said that up until around the mid 1800 the road through Drayford was used To travel between South Molton and Exeter and at the junction of this road with South Street in South Molton there was a Toll House. (Demolished around 1968) Travellers would have left South Molton by way of the old Alswear Road, on to Alswear, to Kittcott Hill, on to Burrow Cross (Exeter was still indicated here as late as 1920's)on to Thorndon Cross, were here could be found another Toll House, (though in bad state of repair). The Toll house was on the site where the Chapel Cloakroom and pump house have now been built. From here the travellers would go on through Drayford and up to Thelbridge Cross, where, in the South Side hedge bank, about 100 yards before the entrance to Thelbridge Barton Farm, there is still a milestone showing the distance to Exeter. There is a further Toll House about 400 yards before you reach Kennerleigh.

The End of My Journey: it is said that at one time Drayford was part of the Earl of Portsmouth's estate. It is also believed that there were houses in Rock Meadow where the pear grows. Its shape certainly suggests that it might have been trained to grow on a wall. It is also thought that houses were built in the mosses court area. Devon skittles were once played near the bridge during the summer time, and a pack consisted of nine skittles, three rows of three to form a square, and a couple of hard balls. Children played Hop Scotch, Flick Stone, Rounders, Dock Off, Hide and Seek; Girls had Wooden Hoops, Boys Iron Hoops.

Artefacts: To name a few: - chimney crooks, fire dogs, bellows, handymaid, fire pan, tongs, poker, boiler, iron kettle, chapping knife, fork digger, Devon shovel, push spade, cycle gas lamp, oil lamp, trap lamp, two gallon petrol cans, lemonade bottles complete with glass marbles, leads water pump.

Top of Page

What I have penned is for the most part is from memory, some I learnt by talking and listening to the senior citizens of Drayford in the 1918/20's. Milk was not delivered, it had to be collected from one of the smallholdings, real Devon scalded cream was skimmed of the milk, put in a glass dish and weighed butter was made by hand. Great pride was taken in making and shaping the butter. A week before Easter the bakers took orders for hot cross buns, then delivered them on Good Friday morning, still hot. On Christmas Eve families got together to burn the Ashen Faggot in the open fire place, the length of the faggots depending on the depth of the fire place. It was bound with a number of wood binds, and as a bind burnt in half, a toast would be drunk. During the 1914-18 war, some of the women would help on the farm weeding the cornfields, hoeing the root crops, planting flatpoles, cow cabbage, lifting the potatoes, help with the hay and corn harvest, setting the corn up in stooks, etc.

In 1914 Mr Lewis job took him to different farms and he was able to collect some horse chestnuts which he planted in his garden. When they were big enough he transplanted the only four to have grown in the green near the bridge. Here they grew well, despite being climbed on by some local children. Catching them one day Mr Lewis warned the boys that Tommy would be put to work if he caught them again (Tommy was his walking stick) a hazel with a fork at the top for him to rest his thumb in, one such occasion arose when Mr Lewis came round a corner and saw my brother up a tree, and made a beeline for him. Bob happened to see him coming and quickly came down. Up the bank, through the rails, and onto the road, where upon Mr Lewis being angry said that if he caught him he would skin him alive and hang his entrails up in the tree, adding that if the trees were not there he could not climb them. Bob's reply "I had known that you B---- Fool", and quickly set of for home.

Mr J Tanner had a garden adjoining the road with the sizeable apple trees. The young boys would throw stones at the fruit, and one evening the children were playing Kiek-Stone, the catcher had to be blindfolded and face a certain way and count up to one hundred, whilst the other children ran off to hide. As the catcher was counting, Mr Tanner spotted him and silently got to him and grabbed him by the ear saying "I'm the catcher now", marched him by the ear to his garden, and made him pick up the stones and put them into his pocket. He then marched him across to the river to dispose of the stones in the river. There was not any more stone throwing after that.

No.2 Trixies Cottage's had a front door facing the road and roadsters would knock on the door and ask for something to eat. Mrs Way never refused them; on one occasion a roadster asked for something to eat and was given a cheese sandwich. The man said that he did not like cheese, and Mrs Way told him that was all she had. The man kept protesting and Mrs Way got very angry. She always kept a billhook by the back door. She grabbed the hook, raised her arm into the air, and told the man to go or else "I'll chop your B---Head off", needless to say the man fled. Mrs Way went out into the road to see him off; as he was going he shouted "You are a Monkey face".

The children were always excited when they heard that Mr Notts steam engine with thresher was coming up to one of the smallholdings, and to watch the monster being manoeuvred into position. The engine was driven by Mr F Mayne, of Chittlehampton, known to be one of the best in the business; near the end there were always a few rats scampering away to safety, some did not make it. Moles were trapped for some pocket money, skinned and pegged out on boards to dry, then sent to Horace Friend of Wisbech for grading. The skins would make 3d or more each. Ocean Taylor from Horseford Lodge also called with her basket of Wares. Mr Westcott from Witheridge would call with his pony and trap to collect any poultry that had been prepared for the table, as well as any eggs or rabbits for sale.

Most of the rabbits the trappers caught would be gutted by cutting a slit in the gristly part of the hind legs. One leg would then be pushed through the slit, and then two rabbits would then be joined together and hung in a wicker basket. This basket would then be labelled and sent as it was with the rabbits showing to such markets as Covent Garden. Christmas poultry was killed, plucked, then taken to the dealers by pony and trap, or horse and cart. Goose wings were disconnected at the first joint and used as dusters. The feathers were used as cloth material called 'bedtick', to make pillows and mattresses, but no tail or wing feathers.

Previous      Go to Top      Home       Text Version      Next Page

Last Edited 03/07/2006    Copyright © 2000-2006 Witheridge

Unless otherwise indicated on the page in question, the photographic images reproduced on this site belong to the Witheridge Archives, and, as such may not be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission. However, you are welcome to use any of the photographs belonging to the archive for personal and/or non-commercial use. Any material shown as not being owned by the archive may not be reproduced in any form without first receiving written permission from the owner of the material in question.