Joy Mayhew in Pentlow
Joy Steward, who was born in Pentlow during the war has provided us with some fascinating memories of her life at Pentlow.
I was born in 1941 at Ropers Farm, Pentlow. During those early years I have a few distinct memories of the war.
The despatch riders, who came and went at all times of the day and night, were allocated half of the farmhouse. In fields behind the house a search light battery was located. My father would stand on the back doorstep where he could see the glow of the fires over London. From our bedroom window aircraft could be seen taking off and landing at Stradishall aerodrome, and on one occasion father woke us to see a doodlebug fly overhead. My brother and I also collected foil from the fields that had been dropped. My father being a farm labourer and therefore not required to serve belonged to the local Home Guard. Every Sunday this group met in the cart lodge opposite our house to practice their skills, often using our orchard, which would frighten my mother who would be hanging out washing to suddenly discover a rifle pointing at her between the fork of the tree trunk. Training also took place in the sandpits down Hoi Lanes in Pentlow.. At the end of the training and parade all the men would march up to the Pinkuah Arms to return much later in the afternoon
While living at Ropers Farm my brother and I attended Foxearth School having to walk each way although we stayed for school dinners. Children from the village of Pentlow were provided with transport which passed us many times but was not allowed to pick us up because we lived just inside the 3 mile limit, even on a wet day. Horses were still being used on the farm at this time and we were allowed to sit astride them at the end of a working day to walk them down to the pond alongside the house for a welcome drink. At this time there were 3 ponds on the farm, one being near the stackyard opposite where the sheaves of corn were stacked and thatched ready for the thresher to operate during the winter months. After tea during the harvest season we used to help pull straw with my mother to enable my father to thatch the stacks allowing him to earn welcome overtime, we also singled out rows of sugar beet which he hoed and left in bunches during the day which proved a much quicker method and more money could be earned on piece rate. In our back garden he bred rabbits to sell, turkeys at Christmas, and kept 2 pigs to sell and the other for our own use. After slaughter the offal was eaten and the carcass jointed and cured in a stone sink to be eaten later only by my father as by this time the fat became a very dark brown and looked most unappetising to 2 small children.
Our free time and holidays were spent playing on the farm with the many animals we kept and walking the dog round the meadows and fields. Sometimes we would spend many hours chatting to the older farm workers, one being Dick Duce, He lived at Huntsman’s farm and would walk to work, home for dinner and return for work after an hour, which amazed us because he didn't own a watch but seemed to know the exact time to down tools and head for home. He was the only person on the farm to still be wearing a red and white spotted neckerchief and carried his elevenses in a small bag threaded on a stick and placed over his shoulder.
In 1947 we moved to the farmhouse at Pentlow Street. Here we used running water, a bathroom and toilet was added much later, until then we used an outside bucket loo and had a weekly bath beside an old beer copper in an outhouse with stable doors and a large open chimney beside a bread oven. On Saturday afternoons my brother and I would take the old tin bath to the wood beside our orchard to collect dry wood in order to light the copper for the weekly bath. The stone floor and draught did not make lingering in the bath very appealing. Electricity was installed much later so lighting was by means of a Tilley lamp with candles used upstairs and a primus stove used to supplement the cooking range in the kitchen.
During this time bread was delivered from a bakery in Glemsford, coal from Creanes of Cavendish, meat also from Glemsford and a general stores van from Beans of Cavendish sold paraffin also some items of clothing .On Tuesdays the fish man, called ,Mr Eves from Sudbury arrived driving a small pony and trap, his round took him to Cavendish where he arrived at lunchtime at the pub .Much later in the day the pony would trot past the house knowing its way home with Mr Eves not always in control sleeping off the effects of the local ale.
Always looking for the opportunity to earn some extra cash my father and I used to set mole traps in the meadows which ran down to the river ,the moles were skinned and pegged out on a board to dry these were later brushed and posted off to London.
We were still walking to Foxearth school at this time where the lessons were not always academic. During the summer we were obliged to go off into the fields to collect poppy petals and rose hips to take to the Stafford Allen works at Lyston payment was made for these but the resulting monies destination is unknown. The headmistress at the time Miss Shrive, lived at Cavendish and cycled past our house on her way to school She owned a Pekinese dog which travelled in a basket situated on the front of her bike.
In 1948 the Reverend Winsland the rector at Pentlow wrote a Nativity play( What Manner of Child) the cast of which was assembled from the village. A television crew erected a stage within the church and the play recorded for live television. When the performance was shown ,Major Bain who lived at Pentlow Hall at that time invited the cast to his home to watch the play, he being the only person to own a T.V. set.
At 11 years of age my brother attended Sudbury Secondary Modern School being taken by bus which picked up pupils from Gestingthorpe and Bulmer en route. I attended Sudbury High School For Girls having to cycle to Cavendish and then catching the school bus to Sudbury. This was rather unreliable as girls were brought in from Haverhill, Stradishall and the surrounding area before our stop and then on to Glemsford, Stanstead, Long Melford and finally Sudbury. On occasions when required to play hockey on Saturday mornings I would catch the train from Cavendish station, usually when needing to shop in Sudbury we caught the bus or cycled. For a special treat we visited Bury St.Edmunds which was our nearest big town although the bus only ran on Wednesdays and Saturdays
For entertainment we cycled to Foxearth to attend the local youth club and to Long Melford or Sudbury on Saturdays for the weekly dance. A village social was held in Pentlow village hall which was well attended, as were the whist drives. Long Melford fair, which was held on the Green, was another occasion not to be missed
In 1958 I moved to Felixstowe to begin a nursing career, while my brother started work at Bruntons, a foundry in Sudbury. My parents left Pentlow in 1960 my father to move to a farm managers position at Sudbourne.