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Mrs E. Williams (EW) was born Emily Palfreyman in Ebrington's Row ,and after leaving the village in 1914, she returned in 1929 with her husband to set up the Chemist's Shop.

Schools: Before 1914 there was a horse van that served as a school bus to bring in kids from the Creacombe/Bradford area. It was driven by Ned Partridge's father of Lower Park. Children are said to have walked from Rackleigh, although why they did not attend Worlington School was not explained. Kids used to buy "three ha'penny busters" (large buns baked by Churchill's and Whitefields) for their dinner. When members of the Benson family taught in the "bottom" school ("church" as opposed to "top" school (Chapel)) they brought in a great ash stick from Bradford. There was much rivalry between the two schools and battles were said to have taken place - "the schools were always up against each other." The Church school kids used to refer to the others as the "upenny ha'penny methodies." At parliamentary election time, all the kids wore party colours to school - mostly liberal yellow at top school and conservative blue at bottom school. Feelings ran high at election time, for example, up at Ebrington's Row, (EW) remembers that her mother refused to allow the kids with yellow favours in the gate to the front of the houses and so prevented their procession from passing along the front. (The backs of Ebrington's Row houses were cob outbuildings at the road edge.)

(EW) recalls that the Church Room had once been a private school was used as a Drill Hall and that "old Vigilo" taught reading there at a fee of sixpence a week. Church Choir (pre 1914): Discipline was very stern under the Rev. Benson, and youngsters who hoped to join the Choir had to become probationers and attend regularly at practice. However, until a place became vacant and they could move into a proper choir seat they did not qualify as members for choir privileges such as the annual outing. E.W. recalls her disappointment as a probationer at being told by Mr Benson "you're not in the choir and you're not going on the outing." Her mother took her in spite of this. For the outing, the Bensons provided a free lunch. The open horse-brake from Thomas's ("rivals" with Tidballs) used to take the party to Lapford Station to catch the train to Exeter and on to Exmouth. There was no cover to the horse brake but "the summer was always fine and we never needed a cardigan in those days." Mr Thomas stabled his horses behind what was later to become Mr & Mrs Williams shop. Choir practice took place twice a week in church. As the shops did not close until 8 p.m. in those days, practice began at 8.15 p.m., and "if you weren't there sharp, you got no mark." For one practice, "two big boys" brought up the harmonium from the bottom school, for the other, they used the organ. The player was blind Robert Hooper from the house beside the Angel now known as Paradise. Hooper was also a piano tuner and basket maker. He was a good musician and was taught new tunes by Mr Benson. Each choir seat was marked, and all the choir books were set out and numbered so that members collected their own as they came in. The Cathedral Choirmaster thought little of them on one occasion and is remembered as saying, "you might as well give them a cabbage leaf as music to read." Choir suppers were well disciplined affairs in the Vicarage, a list made out of who was to take whom in to supper, and each churchwarden was required to take in the wife of the other churchwarden. After supper, all went down to the schoolroom for music, and here each member of the choir was allowed to bring two guests. "Old Squire Cutcliffe" used to provide a Christmas tree.

Sunday School took place at 10.15 and 2.15. In the morning the gospel and collect had to be learnt. Before 1914, the three Miss Cutcliffes, (Grace, Alice and Gertie) and Miss Partridge of Fern Cottage taught. After morning Sunday School they walked in twos in procession to church and sat at the back "under the tower." Before the sermon, however, they were allowed either to go out, or to join their parents. There was a strict system of rewards, satisfactory attendance earned a white ticket, and twelve white tickets made up a pink ticket and so many pink tickets earned a prize. In the afternoon Sunday School, Mr Benson himself used to appear and if you were called upon to repeat the collect learned in the morning and had forgotten it, you had to give your white ticket back. Then they again went in procession to church and Mr Benson quizzed them on the lesson.

Entertainment: There was always a sixpenny tea on Shrove Tuesday followed by a dance in the school. Their employers treated the farmhands to tea.

Shops (pre-1914): Cummings Bowden's mother made clothes and trimmed hats, you bought a hat and had the trimmings put on. Blacksmiths were situated as follows:- Bill Dinner's at the back of Fern Cottage, Baker's where Stoneman Television now are next to the old school. Bert Adams was in the "triangle at Chapner Cross," and there was a fourth blacksmith practising in South Street. (EW) recalls that the many railings at Coombe House are stamped "Baker's, Witheridge." Veysey's were butchers in "Paradise." Churchill's were saddlers in the Square and so was Dick Brayley in Anstey's Court. "Billy Butterdabs" father (BB) was William Greenslade of the Butter Factory in the 1920's) had a horse and cart and was known as the treacle merchant. In 1893 a group of local farmers and businessmen formed the Witheridge and District Dairy Company Ltd. The directors bore such well-known local names as Elworthy, Maunder, Partridge, Selley, Smyth and Eastmond. Mr Maunder, of The Lawns, offered the site for the butter factory, and the building was opened in April 1894. In 1895, a 5% dividend was declared, and corn-cracking and grinding machinery installed. In 1897, a box-making machine was acquired so that butter could be despatched in the Company's own boxes. By then production had reached a ton per week, and a branch factory at Rackenford was being considered. For many years the Secretary was Mr W Greenslade. After some years, the building became the property of Mr C Maire, the miller at Witheridge Mill. In its last years it belonged to the Tiverton Roller Mills, and supplied stock feed. In 1966 it was demolished as part of the scheme to widen Fore Street and to provide access for the Chapple Road developments. The shop beside The Lawns was a grocery store run by Mr P Holloway.

(EW) Walks: People used to walk on Sundays along to Bradford Pond and back by the road well into the 1930's. Bradford Pond had a punt and many water lilies. Other popular walks began at the Drang and went south to the Cannington fields, where people either cut across to Merryside, go on through Woodford, or go down through Cannington.

Pubs: (EW) recalls the "Black Dog" still operating, but not the "Bell." (EW) mother's father kept the "Commercial" in West Street (next to the Brewery). He was also a mason. The horse drawn mail cart was based there. It took the mail to Morchard Road Station. Morchard Bishop was the postal district for Witheridge then. The Mail Cart was "a square red box" and the driver sat on top to drive the horses. Once, the bells of Worlington Church were stolen and thrown into the river. Two detectives came and stayed at the "Commercial Inn" and used to go out in different disguises to do their detecting, often roughly dressed as navvies with red handkerchiefs round their necks.

Water Supply: Pumps were situated at Tracey Green, 12, Fore Street, Pullens Row, Lashbrook, Gunhole, Vicarage Gate, Rosemont, Paradise, Tidball's, Police Station, and the School. There was also the village's own reservoir supply with taps and as the supply dried up, people had to come further and further down the village for their supply.

Fires (pre 1914): For a fire in South Street, buckets of water were carried from the pump in the Police Station. For the fire (just pre 1914) in the Roger's builders yard (present day Stoneman's yard) Bill Bragg rode to Tiverton on his motorbike to get the fire brigade.

Flower Show (pre 1914 to ): Always held on the first Thursday in August, with a beer tent, side-shows by Whiteleggs, free lunch by Whitfields for the committee. Entrants gardens were always inspected before the Show to prevent "ferniggling" - people are said to have gone down to Eggesford Show to buy stuff to enter later a Witheridge. A Flower Show Dance took place in the tent, with a policeman at the gate. On one occasion, old Mr. Selley, the grandfather of Mrs Tout, Mrs Hayes and Mr S. Selley, became so annoyed with the "Try Your Strength" machine that he took up the mallet and smashed it to pieces, but "he paid up like a lamb."

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Sick Club (pre 1914 to start of National Health Service): A Sick Club existed to provide payments for medical attention or medicines to subscribe when needed. (EW) recalls the subscription as sixpence a week. Once a year on 29th May, a Club Walk was held round the village, attended by the volunteer band of which (EW)s father was bandmaster. The Club banners were also paraded. There were roundabouts, side-shows and a "switchback railway" in The Square and a marquee "down Drayford Road" where lunch was served after a church service.

Shops (after 1919): The William's, soon after they started their chemists shop in 1929, were the first to close at lunchtime. Soon after, the others followed suit. George Selley never reopened his butcher's shop after closing it in protest at the calling up of Steven Selley, the last of his sons at home.

Transport: The two carriers merged in 1920 "to prevent the railway coming from Tiverton." When charabancs first came, all the passengers used to have to get out and push up Long Drag on leaving Tiverton.

Butter Factory (1920s - 1930s): You only got local butter if you got in early before they mixed in a proportion of Danish butter. "It all had 'Witheridge Dairy Company' stamped on it."

War Memorial : There was dissension over the siting of the War Memorial after the 1914-1918 war. Some wanted it in the Square and some wanted it in the churchyard. There was also dissension over the unveiling ceremony. Francis Selley was chosen to unveil it, but throughout the church service in the Square, old Mrs Morrish stood on the steps of the memorial shouting that her son-in-law, Ned Ayre (who had won the MM) should have unveiled it.

World War II - Salvage: Mrs Bert Cox, Mrs Hooper, Mrs L. Baker, Mrs Mann, Mrs Jim Leach and E.W. (as secretary of the WRVS.) used to collect salvage. Rolf Tarr lent his linhay at Cross Park for sorting and storage of salvage, flattening cardboard and shredding string to make it go further. Extra clothing coupons were applied for to purchase overalls for this work, but they were refused, this caused indignation.

1939-1945 War - Troops: The Manchester's came to the village soon after Dunkirk. The troops cookhouse was in the Angel Yard, the Sergeants Mess in the Mitre, the Officers Mess in the Hare and Hounds. Drill took place in The Square. The coming of the Manchester's made the village's usual water shortage worse; they used to import their own by tanker, and share it round. The tanker was known as Gunga Din. (EW) was secretary of the WVS. and they ran a canteen in the church room. There was no water laid on there and no kitchen as such. Water was carried in from the tap at the side of the Pound House. The two primuses needed oil and meths. There was no sink at the church room and the slops were thrown down a drain through a grating at the back of the room. Games, draughts, Picture Post and other papers were provided and the WVS. spent £8 for a wireless for the canteen. At 10.30 in the morning all (officers, N.C.O's and men) came in for tea and whatever could be scrounged to eat. In the evening, only the men came. The WVS. used to sew on their stripes and badges and darn their socks. There was some criticism; some said "they only want to help in the canteen to be with the men." Two local girls married Manchester's. As far a crime was concerned, (EW) recalls only one instance when a soldier broke into the bedroom of a local girl, who happened to be treasurer of a local club, to steal the funds from under the bed. The Manchester's were followed by the RASC. and the RAMC. who parked their ambulances in The Square camouflaged against the German bombers on their run to Cardiff or Swansea. Next came the Royal Artillery who also suffered from the water shortage.

A.R.P. Special Constables - The Blackout: Mr Perce Coles was the Special Constable in charge of blackout. He is described as "lurking about to catch people." (EW) was once caught showing light and was indignant. For a long time, the church was not blacked out and evening service was held in the church room. (EW) recalls that the A.R.P. post was up at Merryside and that the members wore navy blue serge coats.

Bombs and Planes: (EW) recalls only 3 or 4 bombs in a field down towards Worlington. One German plane came down near Black Dog after a dogfight. Crowds had stood watching and drove out to see it. (EW) remembers no plane coming down at Bradford.

Americans: The Americans were in a camp at Cruwys Morchard for a time. No less than three times did one of their transporters with its tank, knock the corner off the shop and house at the end of the cob and thatch row in Fore Street (since cleared for road widening) opposite Mill Park. On one occasion, the bed hung out after the impact. The Americans patronised The Angel "beer in one hand and whiskey in the other" and the hedgebanks between Witheridge and Cruwys Morchard were said to be littered with their beer bottles. One evening, (EW)s husband went into The Angel and he was told he was late. He inferred that the Americans custom was preferred to his so he walked out and didn't use The Angel again for some time. (EW) recalls no village girls marrying Americans.

Land Girls: At least three land girls married locally and settled here.

Evacuees: About June 1940 came the evacuees from Erith and Belvedere with their teachers. (EW) recalls that "it was poor stuff they had" and little they got from their parents. The village kitted them up and helped to supplement the 8/6d per week their hosts were paid. (EW) had two Belvedere boys for a year and then a rough lot from Bristol came. Overall, they didn't give much trouble. (EW) believes that the three, Tommy Green (now of Butt's Close), Walter Green and Ivan Spedutti, were on farms and stayed on after leaving school.

Rationing: The country didn't feel the rationing much but the blackout and clothes rationing struck home.

Entertainments: (EW) particularly remembers the New Year's Whist Drive and Dance and Fancy Dress Parade always arranged by the Conservative Local Branch. The charge was 1/6d and twopence extra for entering the balloon dance. In 1940, for example, the Angel Room cost £1-15-0 and the band £3, as is shown in the Treasurer's account book of the "Women's Unionist Society." As is usual, in these accounts that for 1940 shows 3/- for "Ball Room Powder", reflecting the condition of the Angel floor. Laundry and oil (paraffin) cost 1/6. In 1940, the summer outing (this time to Ilfracombe - fare 5/-, members 2/6) still took place, but the war is noted by a donation in February of £10 to Lady Amory for Red Cross Funds. In 1941, donations of £6 to "Auxiliary Hospitals" and £2-5-0 to War Weapons Week were recorded. In 1942, £5 to Red Cross in 1943, £3-0-6 1/2 to Mrs Churchill's Aid to Russia Fund and £5 to the Duke of Gloucester's Red Cross, in 1944, £8 to the Red Cross, in 1945, £18-6-6 to the Nursing Association, in 1946, £8 to Earl Haig's fund.

Witheridge Carnival: (EW) believes the first Carnival took place on 19 November, 1931. The last Carnival was in October 1953 and was rained off. The tableaux were drenched; the horses pulling the Carnival Queen's vehicle were frightened by the lightning and thunder. E.W. had to take up the change to the refreshments laid out in the garage and the change was in a tin, E.W. for fear of lightning, wrapped a cloth round it and ran. Some ten of the original collecting boxes made by E W's father still remain.

Local Jokes:

"Drayford Docks and Creacombe Quay"
"Going out Creacombe ringing?" (Creacombe Church has one bell)
"Born out Rackenford?" (said to people leaving door open and used as far as Tiverton and beyond.)

Politics: Isaac Kerslake's (a leading local liberal) van had LTA as registration letters. This was interpreted by Conservatives as "Liberals Tricked Again." Once Betty Way (later Mrs Alleyne) took Christopher Peto's picture (he was Conservative MP) down to Isaac's and held it up against the glass of the shop.

"Kissing Kate": She was a well known village character in the Twenties. She was born Frost and became Mrs Partridge. Her sisters were Mrs Mansfield and Mrs Amos Maire. Her hair was white from childhood. It was her habit to kiss every woman and girl and to shake hands with men and boys. She is said to have preached at the top chapel. She was tall, like her sisters, and had "a glow of happiness" about her always. She was good to people.

W. Greenslade: "Billy Butterdabs" (of Butter Factory) - "Bill used to bite a fig in half to make weight." In the 1914-1918 war, E W's brother Bert used to go along and tap on Billy's door and whisper "Bill, Bill, Kitchener wants one more man."

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

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