18 Bull Plain
Hertford
SG14 1DT
01992 582686
Open Tue-Sat 10-5
Transcript Detail
View print layout
Transcript TitleBurgess, Jone (O1993.10)
IntervieweeMollie Burgess (MB) & Jone Burgess (JB)
InterviewerEve Sangster (ES). Also present â Betty.
Date30/09/1993
Transcriber byJuliet Bending

Transcript

Hertford Oral History Group

Recording no O 1993.10

Interviewee: Mollie Burgess (MB) & Jone Burgess (JB)

Date: 30 September 1993

Venue: 9 West Street, Hertford

Interviewer: Eve Sangster (ES). Also present – Betty.

Transcriber: Juliet Bending

************** unclear recording

[discussion] untranscribed material

italics editor’s notes

SIDE A

ES: This is Eve Sangster. I'm in the home of Miss Mollie Burgess and Miss Jone Burgess at 9 West Street, Hertford, on Thursday 30th September 1993. I'll ask...Jone first -- your date of birth...am I looking at the right person?..When were you born?

JB: Yes. December 23rd 1904 ['nineteen--four'], wasn't it? 1904.

MB: Yes, 1904 ['nineteen--o--four'].

ES: And what about you?

MB: April 1st 1902 ['nineteen--two'].

ES: 1902. And where were you born?

JB: I was born in Ryde, Isle of Wight.

ES: Right. And how long have you lived in West Street?

JB: Since the end of the First World War, 1919.

ES: 1919.

MB: '18.

JB: Ah yes, 1918.

ES: And what brought your family to Hertford?

MB: Because our father was a printer, and all his men had to go to the War, and he had no one left, and so he had to find a job for himself, and he got a job in Hertford with Simpson -- Simpson Shand, it was then. And so although it nearly broke all our hearts we had to leave the Island, and at first our father could not find anywhere where we could live. And eventually he found this house, which had belonged to -- which had been rented by -- a tailor who used to sit in the window there and do his work. And we'd finally all of us got here at Christmas time in 1918 from different parts.

ES: When you say 'all of you' -- so that was your mother and father, and you two, did you have any brothers and sisters?

JB: Oh, and three brothers.

MB: Three brothers.

ES: Were they older than you?

JB: Younger.

ES: Younger, yes.

MB: I'm the eldest.

ES: And...so you all lived in this house? And when was the house next door acquired?

MB: Tony bought that...dear me!...

JB: Oh dear!

ES: Well, it isn't important but...

MB: ...it belonged to...the house was...well, it didn't belong to them, it was rented by a shoemaker, Mr Sibley.

ES: So this was a little row of shops here, was it, really? I mean, the tailor, the shoemaker...?

MB: And a baker...

ES: The baker next door.

MB: ...on the corner.

JB: The house is demolished now.

MB: The house is not there.

ES: No, to make way for Gascoyne Way, presumably?

MB: Yes.

JB: No, it was long before that.

ES: Was it?

JB: Oh yes.

ES: Was there a square there with a pub, in between?

JB: The pub was at the corner there.

MB: A huge one.

ES: Yes. Was it The Gladstone?

Betty: Oh, that was on the other corner...

ES: Oh I see.

Betty: on the corner of Peg's Lane.

[Remainder of Side A blank]

SIDE B

ES: [Shall we try it again?] We'd got as far really as...we were really talking about what this end of the street looked like, and there were some...there was a row of shops here...well, a shoemaker's, did you say?

MB: Well, you can't say it was a row of shops. There was a shoemaker there, there was a tailor here, and there was a baker on the corner -- that was all.

ES: That was all, yes.

Betty: Was it...? It was The Black Swan, wasn't it?

MB: And The Black Swan was opposite.

JB: Yes.

ES: And when you came here, I suppose of course you'd already received part of your education, hadn't you, in the Isle of Wight.

MB: Well, I was 16, I had almost finished, but I was going to boarding school in…near to Dover. Jone was...still at school when we left the Isle of Wight, still at our Isle of Wight school. The boys were little boys.

JB: Not all of them -- Michael was with me, wasn't he?

MB: Michael was with Jone at our boarding school in the Isle of Wight.

ES: Was it unusual in those days for girls to go to boarding school?

MB: Oh no, we didn't, it was only because...we only went as boarders because we had to split up and leave our home.

ES: So then how did your educations continue? I mean, did you not go to...?

JB: I went to Ware Grammar School...

ES: Yes.

JB: ...that was when it was Ware Grammar School for Girls...I used to...first of all I went by train the first term, then I cycled, I mean I...that's how we mostly...I mean, both girls cycled to school or walked to school, and I was...

ES: And when you'd finished your education, what did you do? Did you have careers?

MB: Oh yes!

JB: Yes, we both taught. I...

MB: And Jone went to university.

JB: I've taught all my life.

ES: Yes. Which university did you go to?

JB: I went to Oxford.

ES: Yes. Which college?

JB: In the old days...now it would be St Anne's College. But then you lived at home, because I had an aunt who lived in Oxford, her husband was a professor, and so I lived with her, so I was...they were called Oxford Home Students. But now it's been made into a college, and it's called St Anne's. There was a recording on the radio not long ago, a conversation with the Principal of St Anne's, but...so that...

ES: But, I mean, as a female undergraduate you must have been fairly unusual. Or was it a girls' college? Presumably it was...it wouldn't have been a mixed college, would it.

JB: Oh no, not then, they weren't mixed.

ES: Did you have any famous contemporaries...?

JB: No.

ES: ...any girls you met, or young women you met there that you've heard of in later life?

JB: That I don't really know, because I've not followed them up.

ES: No.

JB: I haven't had any friends...not long-standing friends among them...no.

ES: And did you go to...university or a teacher's training college?

MB: I went to...now let me think...first I went to St Albans School of Art.

ES: Oh yes.

JB: Didn't you go here first?

MB: Well, I went first to Hertford, yes, to the Hertford School of Art.

ES: What, at the Library?

JB: Where the Library is now.

ES: I'm really interested in that, because I've often wondered, reading the Foundation Stone, and...yes, this is the first time it's ever cropped up though. What was it like there, and who taught you, and how many pupils were there, and so on?

MB: We had a number, I can't tell you quite how many.

ES: Where was it actually held, downstairs or upstairs?

MB: Upstairs...

ES: Yes, of course with very good light, it's rather like a studio up there, isn't it.

MB: ...and we had...the headmaster was quite in his day a famous man -- Groves, his name was. And his assistant was Lismore -- he was also quite famous...

ES: I'm sorry, his assistant was who?

MB: Lismore.

ES: Lismore, yes.

MB: The one fellow-student whom I had most to do with was Mildred Gripper...

ES: Oh yes.

MB: ...and you know the name of Gripper.

ES: Yes, I think I know Mildred Gripper. I think I've done Meals on Wheels with her.

MB: Well, Mildred Gripper is dead now.

ES: Ah well, perhaps it's a...

MB: She...the last years of her life she lived in the nursing home at Hertingfordbury.

ES: Yes, well this must be...but it's a very well-known local name.

MB: It's a local name, yes.

ES: How long did that continue to be an Art School? Did you remember it, Betty, as an Art School?

Betty: No, no, I didn't know it.

MB: I don't really remember quite. And then when that closed I went to St Albans. I cycled. Occasionally I went...

ES: A cycle ride!

MB: Oh yes, well, one did in those days. We were very energetic people!

ES: I mean, it's quite 15 miles, isn't it, wouldn't you think, St Albans?

MB: No, 12.

Betty: Yes, 12, yes.

ES: Two of our children went to the Art School there, but I certainly wouldn't have cycled there.

Betty: But we used to cycle to Hatfield, to work as well.

ES: Yes -- mind you, that is not quite so extraordinary, but St Albans...!

MB: And Jone...Jone cycled. [Phone rings so tape stopped for few seconds.]

ES: So then what happened after St Albans School of Art?

MB: Hornsey. And I finally graduated from Hornsey and I was then able...or to...I was qualified to teach art and embroidery. And I finally after a little time got a job in Tottenham, to teach art and embroidery in the old building which had been used as a school many years before. And I'm just trying to remember -- it was...some connection with the family at that school, but I'm afraid I have forgotten what it was...it was an old building, an interesting building, and half of it was a boys' school and the other half was a girls' school. They were never mixed. And I taught there until the -- it was in the same school -- but until the school itself was moved from Tottenham to Edmonton, and I stayed teaching in that school for 38 years.

ES: I suppose you were from a rather academic family, were you? Was this why you both had careers -- you spoke of an aunt who was married to a professor and so on -- were you expected to have careers, you two girls?

JB: Well, I think we took it for granted we should.

MB: Yes, yes, it was something we never thought of otherwise.

ES: No. But obviously your family was rather academic?

JB: On one side...

MB: On one side, yes.

JB: ...but not on the other. On one side, we were...came of farming families, and...

ES: Yes, where was that -- I mean, where was the farming side of your family based?

JB: Oh, in Buckinghamshire. And on the other side -- well, our grandfather was a Congregational minister, there aren't any more now, but...

ES: And have you...are you Church of England, or are you...Congregationalists?

JB: Oh, we're now called United Reformed Church, you know.

ES: Yes. And that is what the Congregational Church has become, is it?

JB: Well, most of them, yes, not all of them, but most of them have.

MB: Most of them, yes.

ES: And were you...? I've sort of got this picture of you two young women being rather radical, I don't know why. But I suppose because you didn't stay at home, were you...did you have rather sort of left-wing politics, or were you not interested in politics?

JB: I shouldn't think you'd say we were interested in politics.

MB: I was ***** interested in politics, no.

ES: No.

JB: No, nor was I.

ES: Right, well, that's cleared that up.

MB: I was very interested in my work. I taught some famous people.

ES: Did you? Who...? Such as...?

MB: The girl who worked on the Combes' wedding dress, she and three others used to be locked into their workroom, and they were very clever girls.

ES: Because the dress was a secret, you mean?

MB: Oh yes, because it was something which had to be done absolutely perfectly, with no slip-up or anything. And another of my girls worked for the present Queen Mother and for Queen Mary.

ES: So they went as far as they could go, really...

MB: Oh yes.

ES: ...in the embroidery world. So I suppose neither of you lived in West Street, really, when you were young women, you...or did you travel to school in Tottenham?

MB: I travelled...I didn't travel at first. I stayed...I had...I had lodgings at first, but afterwards when we moved to...when the school was moved to Edmonton I travelled. And Jone also travelled -- she lived here, and she cycled every day for 21 years to Cuffley and back.

ES: It's so strange, isn't it, to hear of all this exercise undertaken without a thought [laughs].

MB: We didn't think anything...it was extraordinary at all. It was something quite usual.

ES: I suppose if you'd lived in the country more, you would have...some of the journeys might even have been made sort of by a pony and trap or something, but of course in an urban situation with no facilities...

MB: Yes, well, in the old days, when we were still living in the Isle of Wight, one of our school friends came on a pony, she rode a pony every day for, I suppose, about seven miles -- she came on her pony, she then stabled her pony in a hotel and she walked three-quarters of a mile to school from after stabling her pony. And she did that every day -- no little girl of 11 would be doing that now.

ES: So what was the street like? What is your earliest memory of West Street?

MB: The horses over the road...

ES: Do you mean actually through that archway?

MB: Yes -- which was a brewery. And...

ES: Yes, Nicholl's Brewery. Is that where the brewer's drays came through, that archway, or were just the horses kept...?

MB: Oh no, they came through that archway and next door, you see, was the malting.

ES: Yes. It must have been a lovely sight.

MB: The maltster had a little cottage here -- well, there's just the wall left. That was the maltster's cottage, and then he could walk right the way down to the bottom, you see, to...

ES: To the oast-house.

MB: Yes, to the oast-house.

ES: So there must have been a lot of activity.

MB: Oh there was.

ES: Yes, a really bustling street.

MB: It was very active.

ES: And of course it was still the main road in, wasn't it, one of the main roads into Hertford?

MB: Yes. Of course, when buses became more normal, we used to have regular double-deck buses -- you remember those, don't you?

Betty: Yes indeed, yes.

MB: The St Albans buses...

Betty: The 341.

ES: I came along once -- I'd only been to Hertford once before we came to live here, and I remember coming in on a bus, and how dirty all the houses were, with the exhaust fumes and so on, like, you know, going through Puckeridge before they made...they diverted the road. It used to make the houses very grimy.

Betty: Yes, that's right, yes. You don't think about that at the time, do you?

ES: So there was Nicholls' Brewery there and a lot of activity and the horses coming through the archway and so on, and then what was happening down the street? I mean, it was...architecturally of course it was very much the way it is today, wasn't it...or...?

MB: Oh yes.

ES: I mean, who were your...the friends of the family in the street? Did you have anything to do with the McMullens that...where the Music Centre is now...the school is now? Miss McMullen.

MB: I can't say that they were actual friends -- we knew them, yes, and Miss McMullen used to...

JB: Well, she used to have a…I think it was a sort of garden party. She sold lilies-of-the-valley, do you remember her lilies-of-the-valley?

ES: Was that for a charitable concern? When you say she sold lilies-of-the-valley, I mean was the garden party in aid of the hospital or something like that?

JB: Probably the church, I should think.

MB: The church, I should think it was for, All Saints.

ES: Did she visit much in the street, Miss McMullen?

MB: That I don't know.

ES: I just wondered if...

MB: I just don't know.

MB: When there were Bensons...in...

JB: The four ladies.

ES: What, where Mrs Aslin used to live?

JB: Yes. Oh, you remember Mrs Aslin?

ES: Yes, she was a friend of my mother's when she lived at Potters Bar...

JB: Yes.

ES: ...and my mother used to come up and play bridge with her -- it's strange, this is years before we ever came to live here -- and I can always remember Mummy saying they got off the bus in St Andrew's Street and walked through a twitchell, more or less to Mrs Aslin's, it must have been at the end of...

Betty & JB: Water Lane.

ES: Right...I always remember she said she...they came past a tomb in the churchyard and there were a pair...a set of false teeth on it. Now that's why I remember [laughs]...it has nothing to do with it. Yes, so the Bensons were at Mrs Aslin's?

MB: They lived -- before Mrs Aslin came, there were the Bensons.

JB: There were Bensons on this side too, weren't there.

MB: Bensons, yes, on...***** Mrs Hastings, there were Bensons there.

ES: And who lived in our house, 25?

Transcribers Note: William Frampton Andrews family lived at no 27

MB: Andrews.

ES: Oh, which Andrews?

JB: Did they?

MB: Oh, that was Miss Andrews lived there, and she had a little school there...

ES: But what about...?

MB: ...before Miss Hilton's.

ES: Miss Hilton's was a school, was it?

JB: Yes, but that was on the other side.

ES: What about...? Who were the two women who ran a school there, somebody and Sister Cutts?

MB: Yes...that was Miss Andrews and Sister Cutts.

JB: I don't remember Miss Andrews.

MB: Yes, I do. You said you couldn't remember her the other day, but I do remember.

ES: I think it was Miss Andrews and Sister Cutts...

Betty: Mrs...Miss Waller?

ES: Miss Waller?

JB: I don't think it was Miss Andrews, you know.

Betty: No, I think it was Miss Waller.

ES: Well, she might not have run a school...or this might have been a different school.

MB: It was a different school, but never mind.

JB: We've got the directories, we've got...

ES: What, a Kelly's?

JB: Old directories -- but we've got an older one than that one.

ES: Well, perhaps afterwards we could look.

Betty: I think it was Miss Waller, with Sister Cutts. She had a Sunday School, didn't she, Miss Waller, in my day.

MB: Yes, yes.

ES: And Sister Cutts, was she Salvation Army?

JB: No, she was All Saints, wasn't she? She was a deaconess, I suppose you'd call her.

ES: Why was she called Sister? Was it because she was...was she a medical...?

Mollie & JB: No.

Betty: No, I don't think so. I can't remember why she was called that.

ES: Perhaps it was because she was a deaconess.

Betty: Maybe, probably I think you're right. But she was always Sister Cutts.

ES: So then, how different was the street? I always imagined it's been built up rather, the pavement level.

Betty: Oh yes.

MB: Well, the street was disrupted -- you can't say anything else, can you? -- when Gascoyne Way was built. And when they demolished The Black Swan they thought they...it was going to be as easy as anything -- 'we'll knock that old pub down' -- but no, it wasn't easy at all, they had an awful job, didn't they. They had to have -- oh, what did we used to call them? -- a machine that came, and they had an awful job to knock that building down, it was so well-built. And still, of course, underneath...right underneath the road, there must be hundreds and thousands of beer bottles.

ES: Why? Because the cellars were...?

MB: Oh yes, because they were underneath there...and they'd simply crashed the whole lot down, you see.

ES: Well, it'll be something for the archaeologists in the future to find.

Betty: And then we had a little general store, didn't we...at the bottom, didn't we?

MB: Yes, oh yes, we had a lovely general store.

JB: Whose was the shop?

Betty: No idea.

JB: It was Swallow.

MB: Swallow.

JB: Yes.

Betty: He used to grumble at us [laughter]

MB: Oh yes, I'm sure...

Betty: ***** penny biscuits and things, you know.

ES: ***** The last of the big spenders.

Betty: That's right, yes. And he always used to sell Cambridge and Oxford pins, you know. [laughter]

MB: Oh it was a lovely little shop.

Betty: It was, wasn't it, yes. You used to go up steps into it.

MB: Yes.

ES: Did you have any particular friends in the street? Or perhaps you were at that age when -- you both went away, didn't you, or -- you went away to university, perhaps you hardly had time to make friends.

JB: I didn't have...my friends didn't live in Hertford.

MB: No, no.

Betty: Did you teach at Cuffley until you retired?

JB: No, I taught at...the last school I taught at was St Mary's Church of England School in Cheshunt, I taught there for ten years.

ES: What was your subject?

JB: I just taught French...taking extra, you know, a few odd subjects, but that was my main subject, French.

Betty: And then when you went to Cheshunt, how did you travel to Cheshunt from here -- cycled again?

JB: No, I had various ways...I used to come on a school coach, and sometimes I had a lift by car, sometimes I came by train, I walked to Hertford North and then I went by train to Cuffley, and then I got a bus, so...and by various ways I got to Cheshunt. Even when it was snowing, I walked through the snow from Cuffley to Cuffley Station to the school -- I don't know whether you know where St Mary's School is in Cheshunt? Do you know where Goff's Grammar School is?

Betty: No, I don't know that part very well, no, no.

MB: It was a long walk.

Betty: I'm sure it was.

ES: [Let me just change the tape.]

Tape 2 SIDE A

ES: Do you remember when there was a collar factory in the street?

MB: A what?

ES: A collar factory. You know where the Lakers lived...

JB: Yes.

ES: ...on the left-hand side of Westall Close?

MB: Yes.

ES: Well, one -- you know that centenarian we interviewed who used to live up... next door to, or perhaps even in your house?

Betty: Oh yes.

ES: Annie Inman. She said her sister used to work at the collar factory in West Street. But perhaps that was before your time. She was...she was 100...and it might even have been during the first decade of this century.

JB: Yes. I don't remember...

ES: You don't remember that being anything other than a public house? And you know the...past Bridgeman House, the last bit of it that sticks out?

JB: Yes.

ES: That was a Music Hall. But not presumably in your time? No, that's it -- it must have been in the Victorian era.

JB: I know that out of Bridgeman House there was a school run by a Miss Graveson, because I was rather friendly with the Graveson family, there were several brothers, and I know one of them said that there was -- I think it was Elizabeth Graveson had a school there, but that would be long before our time.

ES: Oh...yes. Did you have anything to do, either of you, with the Pageant that was held in the Castle grounds?

JB: [laughs] Except to go to it, we didn't perform.

MB: Oh no, we didn't perform.

ES: You know the one I mean? Because didn't Mrs Graveson write the script for it?

JB: I thought it was Cyril Heath's.

Transcribers Note: Synod 1973

MB: Cyril Heath.

ES: No. This is the earlier Pageant, in either the '20s or after the First World War.

JB: No, I don't know anything about that.

ES: A Mrs Graveson wrote a script for it. I mean, it was rather on the lines of the Cyril Heath one, I think. But were there any other families of interest in the street?

JB: Just the Nicholls who lived...I mean, there were...when we first came, there was a very elderly Mrs Nicholls who lived there, and her daughters. But, I mean, we didn't have anything to do with them.

MB: No, we didn't really at all, not with them.

ES: Have you been happy in the street?

MB: Then, there were the Milsoms, of course.

ES: Oh yes, they were still here when we came.

MB: Yes, when you came first.

ES: Of course, they used to live at 12, didn't they?

MB: They were in the big house next to Norton House, yes.

ES: 12 West Street.

MB: Yes.

Betty: And then they moved up to...

ES: ...up to wherever they are...12, 14, 16...18...

Betty: No.

ES: Well, they moved where the Pages are now.

Betty: Mrs Mil...oh yes, because I'm talking about Mrs Milsom, when she was elderly, because we had rooms there when we got married, so that would be 30- something...'34? It was the last house, where there was a gap before you got to 57, a great huge gap.

ES: You mean the other side of Westall Close? I wonder which one it was then...because they only go up to about...that's about where they go up to...about 50...

Betty: At that time Somerset Terrace started at 57, and I think that Mrs Milsom lived at something like 30-something, and then there's the big gap...

ES: But I think this must have been another Mrs Milsom, perhaps a relative.

Betty: She must be. Yes, because that would be 1950.

ES: Do you remember what your earliest reading was? We did an interview yesterday with a woman who was 100, but she was saying how her father would never let her read. If he saw her pick up the newspaper, he would say, 'Haven't you got something better to do than that? -- I'll find a job for you.' But I suppose you were encouraged to read, were you?

JB: Well, yes, we always read, or else we were read to. And our mother used to read to us. Of course, we came from the Isle of Wight, we were used to being read to, weren't we -- I mean...

MB: Yes -- and this may be of interest to you -- always when we had breakfast all together, and before breakfast there was Bible reading, always.

ES: Did you have to take it in turns to read?

MB: Oh no.

ES: But your father read?

MB: Father read. And that was...that was, well, I felt that was the right thing to do. And I can just say this, that we ourselves still say Grace before our meals. It was the right thing to do and we still feel it is.

ES: I suppose, living on the Isle of Wight you didn't take holidays, did you? Did you actually live at the seaside?

JB: We lived in the middle of the Island.

ES: Did you have holidays at the sea or did you just do day trips?

MB: We walked to the sea, which was a good long walk. How Mother did it I don't know, but she did.

ES: And did you collect fossils and things like that?

MB: I've got a good one just outside there you can look at.

ES: Did you find it?

MB: [laughter] Well, it was our father who got it. And how he and the friend who was with him, how they got it up off the shore, out of the sea off the shore, and into a grocer's van, which was how we travelled to the sea, with another family -- no one knows.

ES: It's pretty big, isn't it?

MB: Brian can just lift it.

JB: It's a piece as big as this.

MB: You see, it's a piece of fossilized pine, and it's most beautiful.

ES: Perhaps we could look at it on the way out.

MB: So you can certainly look at it, and you can see the cannonball which was dug up in our garden in the Isle of Wight, which was fired from a cannon in Carisbrooke Castle.

JB: [laughter] So we can greet you with a cannonball if you come to rob us.

ES: You sound to me as though you're in some ways more attached to the Isle of Wight than you are to Hertford -- is that true?

JB: Well, I think...

MB: It's true, the Isle of Wight's my home.

ES: Yes, it's strange, isn't it, when you...

JB: Although we didn't...weren't native of the Isle of Wight.

MB: No.

ES: So I suppose that you just...you obviously had a very happy childhood.

Jone & MB: Oh yes, we did.

ES: Yes.

MB: And we were taught to amuse ourselves. We don't...we didn't have all sorts of amusements and games and things -- no.

ES: How did you amuse yourselves?

MB: Well, we just...I don't know quite!

JB: [laughs] In the garden...if we played in the garden, if we went out, we had to stay out, we weren't allowed to come running in.

MB: Stay out...no, we didn't go running in and out of the house.

ES: You made up your mind.

MB: ...and we...our garden was...

ES: I can remember that cry from my childhood, you know -- 'If you're going to be out in the garden, stay out.' [laughter]

MB: And we used to...we...our garden was on a slope which went uphill, and I can remember saying -- if we occasionally wanted to ask something, if we could do something specially, you see, 'walk if it's no, run if it's yes'. So you walked up from the house if it was...you couldn't do it, but if you could do whatever it was, you ran -- it was a good hard run too, it was steep. We had our own gardens.

ES: Did your parents have help in the house when they came here?

MB: Yes.

ES: You had a maid or something?

JB: We used to have a woman...we had a woman to help with work.

MB: We had...Mrs Salvage, we had.

JB: And Mrs Brant.

ES: Mrs Brant, yes.

Betty: Oh I remember Mrs Brant.

ES: Why? Did she live in the street?

Betty: Yes, she lived next door to me.

JB: She lived in the terrace.

Betty: Yes, she lived at 61. And she used to work for Mr...

JB: Moodie?

Betty: Mr Moodie.

JB: Oh yes, we had Mrs Brant.

MB: Mrs Brant for years.

JB: And then, you know, our niece...the niece who answered the phone *****, well she lived in the terrace first, when she was first married, let's see...one, two...the third house *****. I think so.

ES: Did you know Gordon Moodie's mother, or was she a widow when she came here? I don't know how long they lived in that house, the Moodies.

JB: We had...we just vaguely knew Mrs Moodie, didn't we?

MB: Yes, not so very much, we knew him, of course, very well.

ES: Do you mean Gordon Moodie, or his father?

JB: No, Gordon, yes, yes.

Betty: Well, he lived there till he died.

JB: And we had quite a lot to do with him really.

MB: Oh yes, we did.

ES: Oh. He wasn't a very sociable man in some ways, was he?

JB: But you see he was so interested -- it was he who brought his friend to look at this house because it was so interesting, you see.

MB: He brought the friend who wrote the book...

ES: It wasn't Graham Bailey, was it?

MB: ...Timber-framed Houses.

ES: Oh yes! Timber-framed Houses of Hertfordshire.

Transcribers Note: Probably Harry Forrester’s Timber Framed building in Hertford and Ware 1964

MB: Yes. I've forgotten his name at the moment. We've got the book, of course. We've got his book.

ES: Oh, not Adrian Gibson?

MB: No, that wasn't the name. He came...Gordon brought him, and he spent two days in this house, literally on his hands and knees, up at the top, looking at the different kinds of wood. And the whole house is made of funny bits which he said came from the Castle, when they were building over there.

Betty: When was this house built?

MB: Three hundred years ago.

ES: I know there was a king-post from the Castle that was in one of the Castle Street cottages. A lot of the material was re-used just around the Castle. It's interesting, isn't it.

MB: You see, this cupboard...this door's ever such a funny door when you open it, so...all funny bits, and the floorboards here -- Adrian Jones said, you don't get them nowadays, they're much wider -- beautiful boards.

ES: Oh, and that would be interesting to read, that article, wouldn't it?

Betty: Yes. What about your brothers, what were their names?

JB: The eldest one was...

MB: Michael.

JB: ...Michael, then there was Tony, and then the youngest Peter. Michael was some bit older than Tony and Peter, and the only surviving one now is Peter, and he lives in Haddenham.

MB: Buckinghamshire.

JB: Yes, see...who else knew something about Haddenham?

MB: Peter was at Christ's Hospital.

Betty: Did all the boys go to Christ's Hospital or...?

JB/MB: No. Only Peter.

ES: What, here or at Horsham?

MB: Horsham.

JB: Yes, it was only girls here.

ES: At one stage there were boys here, weren't there.

JB: That was long ago.

ES: I know it was a long while, but I know it was because Coleridge went there, didn't he? But I realise Coleridge was another *****.

Betty: And where did the other two boys go to school?

MB: Richard...Well, the grammar...what was Hertford Grammar School, which is now Richard Hale.

Betty: And what did they do?

MB: The eldest one was a chemist.

JB: A pharmaceutical chemist.

MB: A very very...good one indeed. And Tony of course was a...

JB: A carpenter.

MB: ...a carpenter by trade.

Betty: And a great Scouter, wasn't he.

MB: Well, he had the OBE for that, yes. And he made the most beautiful boats.

Betty: Oh yes, I remember that.

JB: [laughs] You remember the boats?

MB: You remember when we had one up the passage.

Betty: Yes, oh yes, I'd forgotten that.

ES: Hertford is a strange place to practise the craft of boat-building, isn't it? We're so far from the sea! *****

JB: But of course they came up the river, didn't they?

Betty: I remember that. And of course the Scouts' Gang Show.

JB: [laughs] You remember those?

MB: Oh yes, they were wonderful.

Betty: They were indeed.

ES: How did you get involved in the Celebrity Lectures? Have you been involved from the start with that?

MB: Yes.

JB: From our church, it was the church who started them.

ES: All these years I've gone past your door and seen the notice that...the yellow posters, not that I've ever been to a lecture, but...

JB: There were some very good lectures.

ES: And were you involved with that from the beginning, or...? Was it a fund-raising...for the church...?

JB: Well no.

Betty: No, the church sponsored it, didn't they.

JB: It was just a...

ES: Just a sort of educational...

JB: ...yes, or for enjoyment really.

MB: It was for enjoyment. And it was so reasonably priced, wasn't it?

JB: It was something that was enjoyable and within reach of everyone's pocket, that was the idea, not to be, you know, very selective. So, I mean, we did have some very good names, didn't we?

Betty: Very famous ones at times, yes.

JB: I mean, they've been famous since we had them. But, of course, it's not really so long ago since they stopped.

Betty: It's only last year, isn't it?

JB: But it was -- what? -- 47 years they went for. Oh yes, it was one of the church ministers who started them.

ES: You've always been great churchgoers, have you?

JB: Well, oh yes, I mean, for whatever...having...well, both our grandfathers, they were reli...you'd say they were religious people, wouldn't you.

MB: Yes.

JB: And the grandmothers...but the grandfathers more especially.

MB: Oh yes, yes.

ES: Well, I wonder if we ought to call that a day, do you think? -- I don't want to tire you out.


 Hertford Museum   18 Bull Plain   Hertford   SG14 1DT   01992 582686  
Web Design by Brass Tacks (T)