The Horseman

Location : Suffolk

Poplar Farm – Mr.C bought that and he bought the Grove Farm in the same year. I think if I’m not mistaken they were about £1100 each. They were both the same size, just over 80 acres. I’ve got a paper somewhere with the auction in the Grove Farm. That split up, you see. I was horsing there. I worked just over 30 years. When the Grove land was sold the house and all the land made over £100,000. I kept the paper. It’s a funny thing, I see that the other day. That’s 86 acres. It was sold all in lots. That’s 13 acres this field where these council houses are and that used to belong to the Grove. I ploughed and drilled where this house stands. I farmed it a long while.

I believe I started work at the Grove in 1938. I was a horseman. I was a horseman right till they sold the horses. They used to have 6 horses. We farmed the two farms you see, well three farms really because we had a little farm at Fingal Street, Oak Farm, just past the station. That’s only about 14 or 15 acres of land. Then we farmed the Rectory land. Now that’s laid down you see. The parson had it for horses.

We kept the horses at the Grove. I used to get up at 5 o’clock in the morning and go and bait them. Different to what that is now, you know. People talk about times now, but by God they don’t know nothing. Years I got up at five o’clock in the morning up to see after the horses. Right until I come out of the army in 1919. And I baited the horses right till they were sold. Then they had all the tractors. Then I drove a tractor the rest of the time. We used to keep the horses there and we used to go from farm to farm. That land joined, that’s a funny thing. The Poplar Farm and the Grove farm, you could get from one to the other without coming round by the road. Mr H. bought somewhere about 40 acres off the Poplar Farm and he bought about 40 acres off the Grange. I ain’t nothing to do with the Grange. We had a few meadows but nothing much. The biggest part of it was corn and sugar beet.

I lost my wife you know, 2 year last February. We’d been married 58 years. Her home was at Stanfield and she came down. I worked for Mr. B. at Sycamore Farm Southolt. Then I left when I moved into the council house, that was the other council houses. I’ve been here over 30 years. I’ve been here since they were built. I went in one of the others when they were first built.

I tell you what I have got that might interest you. I’ve got some old rent cards when I first moved into the council houses. And you wouldn’t believe it, when I went into those council houses down there, I was in Number 14, poor old Miss T. live there now. I lived there10 year. I used to have a little change out of £1 a month rent. I’ve got the books here. The Grove thing might be in here.

The wages weren’t high then, that they wasn’t. Do you know what I got when I started work at13? Two shillings and six pence a week. And on top of that we had to work 50 hours a week, well 54 summer time.

That’s interesting to see these old cards. I can show you the first one I had and I can show you the last. Because they don’t have no rent collecting here, you know.

Reads ‘ Tenancy commenced 11th June 1938, rent 3 shillings and 6 pence a week.’ I told you I had some change out of a pound.

That’s my latest. That’s the finish of when they come round collecting rent. They’re going up again. I paid £85 a month. in 1982. That’s the first rent card I had here. That’s January 1950.

Looking through drawer again for the auction details – I can’t think. I see that the other day. That tell you what every lot made.Mr I bought 9 acres. Course you know Mrs. I. She came to see me last week. I’d never seen the young lady before. Didn’t know her. She wanted to know if I wanted to enter anything in the Show. I said ‘Not, I’ve got too old for that.’

‘Oh,’ she said ‘My father-in-law’s 87. He’s going to show something.’

You may not think it but I’ve got every rent card since I started with the Council. I don’t suppose I should have saved them. But when my wife died I was going through some things and I happened on all these cards. All of them, right from the start to the finish.

When I was 13 I started to work where Mr.I live now. That was Stanley N.. Let’s see. He married Fanny I’s sister. That’s where I started, but I didn’t work there long. I went down to work at White Hall to see after the pigs. I got a big rise. I had to work half a day Sunday and I got 6 pence a week rise. That wouldn’t buy much today would it? You tell some of them young ones what we done and they wouldn’t take it in.

Mr. S. lived at White Hall He’s been dead a long while now. He had 10 sows and he used to fatten all the pigs up. It varied. Sometimes we had 70 or 80, sometimes near a 100. He used to fatten 10 bullocks every year. He had a pony and trap. I used to see after the pony. I used to go Sunday mornings and I wasn’t allowed home until I’d harnessed his pony, put it in the trap, took it up to the gate and stood there while they got in. Then I could go home, about quarter to eleven. That’s how we were treated then. We weren’t treated very well. Still, we got through it.

When I left there I went to Southolt Park to work for Mr G. Then I was called up in the army when I was 18.Then I came out of the army and went to work for Mr.B. That was at Sycamore Farm, Southolt. And that’s how I met my wife. That’s how I met her. And I can tell you I can see her standing there when I first see her. I went up there to ask them for a job. I hadn’t got nothing to do with them then. And while I stood talking to him against the door this young girl she come into the kitchen and she say ‘ Kiss your Daddy goodnight, dear.’ and I never did forget it. All them years ago. Sixty years ago. That would be about 1917. That’s a long while ago. She looked after the children. They all had a maid then. They used to do anything. And that’s where she was and I worked and that’s where we married from. I lived in Southolt then. I lived there until I moved into the council house.

I’ve got my marriage certificate in there, if you’d like to see that. These things, they are interesting. Now I keep all my things in here, pension books, rent book, insurance. That’s my wife’s death certificate over there. I thought I’d got my marriage certificate. That’s the one. You wouldn’t believe I had that over 60 years, would you?

I should like to find that paper so you could see the prices of the land

How can I let you have it if I find it? I was reading it the other day. You know what it is. My memory isn’t what it was.

That’s my photo from when I was in the army, look. That’s Stanley Stern. I went to school with him. He’s been dead a long time. We weren’t in the same regiment. He was in the Machine Gun Corps. I was in the Royal Field Artillery. You can see I’m sitting down. I had a man come here one day asked me if that’s my brother. I said ‘No, that isn’t.’

What did I do with that other? That tells you how much the Grove made. The Grove and the gardens. That weren’t much. The land was sold in three or four lots. Mr. I bought them fields, there was only one field, behind the other council houses. That’s a funny thing. There was these council houses here and the council houses up there and they’re all built on the Grove land. It wouldn’t seem possible, would it?

I used to do the two farms, ploughing and drilling and everything like that. The field on the corner was Poplar Meadow. But the field the other side of the road, that would be on the left as you go that way, that belonged to the Grange. It was very heavy land, very heavy. Draining, ditching, hedge cutting, I done all of them.

Water was all outside in those days. We used to use water out the pond. Years we done that, right till I moved into the Council houses. And then they never had the water laid on at the other Council houses. I lived right up there on the

Bedfield Road. Well, you know where Miss. T live? That’s where I lived. We used to get our water out a stand pump. But there weren’t a stand pump down our road. We had to cart all our water from the main road just round the corner. We used to have to all go there with baths and pails for washing water and everything. That was mains water from the stand pipe. They must have laid that main around about that time, I expect. Because when I first went into Council houses I used to cart all our water. I used to bring it round with a horse and water cart. That was 40 years ago.

We used to have five weeks off for harvest. We used to carry the dinners then. Then men all had their dinners out. If you lived a hundred yards away from the house you still had to have your dinner out. That was the custom. They used to have breakfast out, dinner out and ‘fourses’ out. They’d have beef pudding or pork dumpling, we used to call them. We used to have to walk miles. You had to walk to wherever your father worked you see. They used to carry their breakfast and we used to take the dinner and if that weren’t too far we used to take the fourses, as we called them, and if that was too far off we used to carry the fourses with the dinner. Still, we were happy enough. I don’t know, I think people were more happy and contented then than they are today. I think that’s a case of the more you get the more you want.

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