2019 - Caroline Coryndon (CC) Recording of her memories of Oare

Caroline Coryndon (CC) Recording Summary

Total Recording Time 45:03

Interview May

14th 2018 at Russet in Oare

Interviewer: Dawn Wilson

[CC 0:15] CC I live at Russet in Oare and was born 19 May 1946.

[0:28.6] DW What is your family history in relation to the village of Oare?

[0.31.8] CC My parents were friends with John and Angela Waterlow. Professor Waterlow was a Dr and they met when they went to University and they remained very close friends all through their lives. My parents first came down long before I was born before the War [WW2]. In fact, I think they probably came to stay while they were still at University and I know I came to stay as a very small baby but obviously have no memory of that at all. My first memory of being here is when I was 4 and my brother and I came to stay with the Waterlows while my sister was being born for the first few weeks of her life and I have quite vivid memories of staying at Caroline’s Cottage which is not named anything to do with me, but that’s where we stayed which was where John and Angela Waterlow lived. They didn’t live then with their parents at Parsonage House.  It was the most wonderful 3-acre garden in the middle of the village, which sadly over the years has been split up.

[01:53.7] CC A lot of houses have gone up over it and it is no longer the garden that is was. But as a child it was the most magical place with lots of corners, enormous vegetable garden, tennis court, not that I played tennis, beech hedges everywhere so fantastic for hide and seek. Enormous trees to climb, big orchards, and it just was a haven particularly then as I was a London child with a very very small back garden. Probably with more freedom than the average London child has now, we certainly were allowed out on our bikes on our own, but even so to come down here was just a taste of magic and freedom and I knew from a very young age that as a grown up I did not want to live in a city.

[02:49.3] CC I wanted to be in the country so that’s the history of why I am here. For me personally and my connection with the village is from my parents and it was absolutely everything. There were some rather scary things about being here. I suppose there was a lot less traffic in those days, but we were quite often sent to the shop and from where Caroline’s Cottage is was a very daunting trip because you either went down the right way through the pub yard as it was then, which is now the carpark, which had an enormous, at least it felt enormous flock of geese in it. Which when you are a small child is scary. Or you went down Rudge Lane and daunting rather than scary, the bench on the stocks corner always had a group of 3 or 4 elderly men sitting there, who of course wanted to talk and say “how are you” so you bit the bullet and decided which way to go.

[04:06.0] CC But equally the freedom of going to the shop was fun and was run by a family who I kind of knew quite well called the Blackmans. Certainly, one of their sons was sort of the same age as us so we were you know part of a gang of children in the village who were our sort of age which was very nice. But it just getting there and getting back was a bit scary.

[04:40.2] CC Caroline’s Cottage where the Waterlows lived for a bit, my parents looked after for them because John Waterlow was a World Health Organisation Dr and spent well his entire working life abroad and a lot of time in Africa. So, they had 3 children almost the same age as my brother, sister and myself and in the holidays one of their children was with us here, one with the grandmother in Parsonage House and one stayed with a family called the Brooks who lived in Martinscote. So it was trying to sort of give them, I suppose, as normal a life as possible with their parents away although I think they were pretty miserable really. Not a happy childhood for them. For us it was nice as we were all at the time pretty close friends. Caroline’s Cottage was named after, I don’t know her surname, but she was named after and used to be called the old girl who was the village healer, white witch, wise woman. The bit of the garden at Russet had never really been cultivated until our house was built and it was quite extraordinary the herbs and came up and still do come up, I mean a forest of opium poppies feverfew and various other curative herbs which was quite extraordinary and a hangover. Her house was right down the bottom of our garden and really, I applied for planning permission for our house, that’s where I wanted to build because I thought it would be really nice to have it where the old cottage had been.

[06:54.5] CC But the planners weren’t having that it had to be in line with the Rosary so anyway that’s sort of the history of Caroline’s Cottage and there is a photograph of Colinas’s Cottage which I’ve seen which was in the possession of Stanley Flippance taken by I don’t know who but taken when his mother lived in Lutyens Cottage because she was the Cook at Oare House. He was quite a young child with his sister sitting on the wall with Caroline’s Cottage behind. So I would love to see that photograph again. It must still exist I hope. [DW something to investigate]

[07:48.4] DW What other childhood memories do you have? CC I have quite vivid memories of the Flower Show which used to be held in the really the first field on the left in Pound Lane on what was then Drury’s land which was were the village allotments were. That was a big occasion with a big marquee and the thing that struck me most as a child was that people used to bowl for a pig. My father used to have a go and I used to be really worried in case we won the pig thinking what on earth do we do with a pig. It was the first time I had ever seen a helium balloon was there in fact the only time really as a child I saw a helium balloon was there.

[080;51.3] DW Its interesting that you mention the pig as a prize because I have recently discovered that most of the houses in Huish had their own Sty. CC That doesn’t surprise me, it would be, particularly through the war, almost everybody kept pigs and extraordinarily the bit of London I grew up in, which is now very posh, but certainly wasn’t then, there were still people keeping pigs in their back gardens when I was a child and it must have been a hangover form the War. And then there was some byelaw passed in London and people weren’t allowed to keep pigs. But if your read about country life pre-war almost everyone kept pigs and then during the war there were pig clubs and everyone took it turns to slaughter and then the meat was shared out. So a pig was still a pretty valuable asset. I don’t remember anyone keeping pigs in Oare but I am sure people did.

[10:14.0] DW What was your next memory of Oare? CC Well I suppose partly the other shop which was the Bakery now the Old bakery which was always rather special to go in there because it was ting and yet it had so much stuff in it. So, it was a sort of haven of magic in there. Oare House which was at that point owned Sir Jeffrey and Lady Alethia Fry who were, I don’t remember them clearly, but they did every now and again allow us to swim in their swimming pool, which was completely green and full of frogspawn and newts and everyone swam with their heads above water because to was too scary to put your head under water. But those gardens and the smell of those gardens, and I still when I go around Oare House gardens and walk down the herbaceous border in I suppose July or late June, the smell of that garden takes me right back to my childhood. Absolutely wonderful. So that was again rather daunting because if they had been kind enough to ring up and say would your children like to go for a swim, of course we had to go up and say thank you afterwards and that was, that lawn seemed enormous as you walked up the slope to the house where they would be sitting on the terrace and must go and say thank you, quite rightly. But mostly it was the sense of freedom, being able to get up on the Hill and be on your bike and the people who were all so friendly and interested and everybody was looking out for everybody else. So those are my sort of childhood memories of here.

[12:35.0] DW Can I ask do you remember there being somebody living on the Hill back then?  CC I knew there were people living on the hill cause we walked up there but by the time I was old enough to be really taking things in they were empty and derelict and a source of great fascination. So they kind of just crumbled for years, that’s how I remember it.

[13:18.3] DW Its interesting because we have documentation that says that the last person left in the 1920s but one of the Pearce brothers remembers one old lady still living up there when he was young so that would that that into the late 1940s early 1950s, so it will interesting if we can find out from the census records. CC Because their father [Pearce’s] was born up there.

[13:53.4] DW What about Hatfield Farm, do you remember who was a Hatfield Farm when you were a child?  CC The Pealls, I don’t remember anyone other than the Pealls being there.  I knew the 2 Peall girls [Caroline and Belinda] who were a little bit older than me, but you know you knew them because they were children and I presume my parents certainly knew the Peall family and I remember the wonderful thing of going to get apples of the season, the smell of the apple store was just fantastic. I suppose again the footpaths around the edge of the fields we used to walk a lot. We quite often used to walk to Pewsey and certainly when we were old enough would walk to Pewsey to go the Cinema which was quite something. Probably once a holiday treat I imagine on a wet day, but you paid for it by walking.

15:16.7] DW What about thinking of the events that other have spoken of, what do you remember of the coronation 1953? CC I remember seeing the procession, a very exciting day. I was in London, I wasn’t here, and why we were able to watch it was my father was a BBC announcers and newsreader was doing part of the commentary on the route. So there was some special place were the child of the people doing that were able to watch the procession and it was really near Marble Arch. But I also remember the procession for the Kings funeral. For the same reason. So I saw the wonderful Queen Sumoti from one of the South Sea Islands in her carriage. An enormous woman, you know, dressed in traditional costume, that’s my strongest memory. And my brother having to wear a black tie aged only 3 years older than me and I was pretty little so he was pretty little but his school; made all the children wear a black tie and had a black armband so it’s not a local memory but I do remember it very clearly.

[17:07.2] DW There are very very strong memories of the Coronation for those that were here during that period. What about the Village Hall? CC Well there was the Reading Room on Rudge Lane which was on the site of what is now the Village Hall. I can remember occasionally going to the youth club there when there was a youth club there. So I remember it being there and of course the old WI Hut actually really acted as the Village Hall.  Much more where, in fact I think the committee of the WI Hut really became the Committee for the Village Hall when we were fundraising to build the Village Hall which I remember pretty clearly because by then I was totally grown up and the sponsored walk that the Women of the Village all did to Avebury was a big thing. I’m sure lots of other people have spoken about that which was a wonderful day it was really good fun. You know we were all friends and that period of my life when I had children and a lot of women in the village also had young children and very few of us worked or if we did it was piecemeal bits and pieces and there was a really close link between all the school gate mothers or preschool mothers. The children all went round each other’s houses and made the most wonderful gang of kids all very similar ages. Which is sad because we have lost that. There is a bit of it in the village now but not in the same way at all.

[19:18.6] DW Do you remember, or do you have any recollection of the School being at the bottom of the Churchyard? CC Well what a can’t remember is whether I knew that or whether I just knew it had been there. I remember the school being built and I remember the school when it was enlarged and added on to because I was actually at that point teaching in London.  I was teaching at a school for physically handicapped children in London in the most ill-suited Victorian building, and a group of architects, who actually I presume were school architects came to visit the school because they were going to be building a new school for the school for physically handicapped children and they had been involved, oddly enough which shows how much I must have talked about Oare, because it came up and they said oh how extraordinary we have just done the plans for extending Oare School, so I remember that clearly and then my children were there for the newest extension because they were in a portacabin in the playground.

[20:55.3] DW Thinking of another significant event were you around for the Silver Jubilee? CC Silver Jubilee I was around but I had at that point a very young child and I was involved because I think then I was on the committee, for the Hall, I was involved in the organisation, I didn’t actually go, I think she wasn’t well. I really missed not being there. My parents were there and my brother and older children, so I heard all about it but missed the event which was a great shame. I think one of the high spots of celebrations in Oare and never really been quite recreated.

[22:00.3] DW So the other property in the Village that would have seen a lot of changes would be the White Hart? CC Oh my goodness yes. DW What are your first recollections of the White Hart? CC I suppose as a young adult I cannot remember the name of the landlord and landlady who were brilliant, really nice couple. The public bar, it’s all closed now, seemed so gloomy but it was always full of life. amazingly there was a jukebox in there and people used to dance. Everyone crowded in there and the saloon bar was pretty well empty with one or two fuddy duddies used to go in there. My father and John Waterlow used to go in there for a drink sometimes but everyone else went into the public bar and there was real life going on and darts going on and music an awful lot of people, but it seemed to work perfectly well.  That and the shop were the absolute centre of the village and village life really and such a tragedy that both have gone.

[23:49.4] DW any other recollections of significant events whilst you lived in Oare? CC Well what else have we had there was quite a lot of stuff done for Charles and Diana’s wedding.  There was a fete and lots of stuff for children. There was a painting competition I remember a kid’s dressing up parade held in my parent’s garden. The children had a commemorative mug and a coin I think. It seems a very long time ago. The Golden Jubilee party was in Huish so unless my memory if failing me we haven’t had another big village do. Which was one of the reasons for resurrecting the village flower show. When if first started up again and went on to be a BBQ and bonfire and that went on for a few years. But like all these things it lasts for a few years and then the format has to change because people get bored I suppose. But it had a new lease of life last year so let’s hope that carries on. Because the village so needs a focal point particularly when you don’t have a village green which we don’t and we have no pub and we have no centre to the community  anymore and the Village Hall tires its best but it is not the ideal building. You know with all the money in the world it would be lovely to pull it down and rethink it and rebuild it. But there is no car parking in the village anymore, so we are quite sort of hamstrung.  DW yes it is a challenge. CC it’s a challenge a and a lot of new people coming in aren’t particularly interested in community or they might be if we still had a pub because that’s a place where everybody meets up. But without that then to actually meet some of the people is quite difficult.

[26:58.7] DW What about Rainscombe Park, can you remember who was a Rainscombe? CC The Drury’s were there. I remember them sort of quite clearly and their sort of carer housekeeper for Lady Drury died very recently because I used to see her in Marlborough. But I don’t remember them playing much part in the village particularly. I mean they did the things like the Hunt used to meet there but I don’t really remember them let’s say at the village flower show or although I bet they were there because it was on their land. But it didn’t seem to me that they came to much in the village.

[28:02.0] DW Out of curiosity who long have you been working doing what you do with furniture? CC Since 1981 when Nick was in partnership with his father and they ran a cabinet restoration business. They didn’t make very much furniture because the workshops were too small, that was in Pewsey and his father retired in 81 which as roughly the sort of time our youngest was thinking of going off to work but with 4 children actually doing a full-time job is quite difficult and I can almost guarantee that in any given week one of them is ill or breaks a leg or something. S I decided rather than go back to teaching I would go into partnership with Nick and that’s how we started. We started with 2 of us and now we employ, all pretty local. 17 people. so it’s built up over the years and our son Davis who is our youngest and was one of the very last children to be born at Savernake Hospital, in those happy days now is our manager so hopefully there is continuity and the business will continue after we finally if we ever do retire.

[30:08.4]DW It is obvious that your company now has got quite a reputation. But how do you cope when the Steam Fair comes to Rainscombe? [Corydon’s workshops are part of the Rainscombe Units] CC Well its quite fun in way and we know it is going to happen. We know our electricity line is going to be brought down by some large machine despite having signs everywhere saying caution live wires.  From our point of view the build-up doesn’t infringe on us at all and it is fun watching all the big machines come in and because of the one-way system they only come out through our yard and we just have to be careful how we park really. So we actually really rather enjoy it and it is a really really nice thing to happen in the village because it is local. Obviously, it draws in outsiders but almost everyone in the community goes at some point. So if you are there you are bound to meet people. DW Very true and I think that the shape of the position of Rainscombe House where it is in that bowl-shaped amphitheatre lends itself very well to a Steam and Vintage fair of the old school.  And every year we pray for fine weather.  CC the only down side for us is that our water pressure goes which can lead to problems in the building but other than that we welcome it really. I like it even if I am here. You can hear it going on particularly if the wind is in the right direction it would be lovely to have more things of that sort.

[32:22.1] DW Thinking back to other weird and wonderful facts. Do you know much about the Merton Richards? CC Very little. DW So other than the fact that he painted the “three Faces of Diana” CC and a lot of other society portraits. DW and the house looks like a roman villa, we don’t seem to know very much about them. CC No I don’t think anyone knew then they were fairly reclusive really. They sort of tried to be quite friendly with my parents and they worked their land which was adjacent, so I suppose they had to be on reasonable terms. But remember how they got planning permission was because there was a shepherd’s hut on the edge of Pound Lane roughly where the entrance to their drive is which was classed as a dwelling. I remember the shepherds hut very clearly because we used to walk right along the lane down to Wick and back up over the Hill and back down. So I do remember that. But I can’t even remember really when it was built. I remember it being quite shocking from the top of the Hill it being such a big thing and that big expanse of water, which obviously had never been there before. But about them I know very little I know that they lived in Enford before coming here.

[34:05.6] DW Just trying to think of the other properties. What about the Ox Yard? CC I remember the Ox Yard, I remember Lady Hurd very clearly who was a an enormous friend of the Brooks who lived in Martinscote. I can’t remember but she lived there as an old lady, so was relatively recently that she died and then obviously the house was gutted and changed and modernised which it probably needed. Although the structure is the same of course with that wonderful barn on the main road where the village hearse was kept. I don’t know is that at Huish now in Richard Strong’s barn?

[35:26.0] DW Which of the building in Oare would you say is the oldest? CC Well the Ox Yard is pretty old, Bennet’s is pretty old those are and possibly the house opposite the pub, that thatched row and the old shop.

[36:04.0] DW Do you remember the old Smithy? CC Yes very much so. DW Do you remember the accident that demolished the old smithy? CC I didn’t see it I remember talk of it which is on the site of Ivy cottage and Tom Hiscock who worked there who still walked round the village almost to the day he died without a shirt whatever the weather. But he looked like a smith, even as an old man he had the stature of a smith. And of course, the garage the petrol, pumps almost opposite which I think is quite a common link because a lot of smithies became garages. Maybe that’s when the smithy was demolished as a result of an accident is why the garage set up there because maybe he had it as a bit of a repair shop. DW So do you know what caused the accident. CC No. DW What the incident was? CC No DW so you didn’t hear about the lorry that jack-knifed and buried itself in the front of the cottage? CC well I heard that is was a lorry but didn’t realise it was a jack-knife. DW And so say whoever was in the cottage slept through it. CC After some ale perhaps. DW But when they removed the lorry the cottage fell down. CC Well that wouldn’t surprise me at all. DW Interesting that you had heard of it.

[37:51.1] DW Any other dramatic events that spring to mind? CC I remember very clearly the road being widened and the wall at the bottom of Rudge Lane being rebuilt with the Crown which came from the House of Lords being reset into the wall. It was much much narrower the road and although I don’t actually remember it there was no pavement the wall was level with the current pavement because the village well was still there on the edge of the road. It’s now been tarmacked over roughly in the layby. It just had a tin cover on it. DW I hope they put something more significant over it than a tin cover before they tarmacked over it! CC I hope they did but there were the two stock cottages on the left and there had been a well there two and an enormous sort of sinkhole developed and all gave way. And there was a well at the bottom of our garden and there is a lot of water here. DW and we have since discovered the gentleman in Martinscote discovered a well when he was extending his kitchen. CC Well that was always there I mean if anyone had asked me there was always a well there. Because the extension they have built is actually where there was a courtyard behind the garage and there was always a well there.  People build bits on but hey don’t always tell the people buying from them what was there before. Because that is a house I know really well. There was a well inside Parsonage house, the grander houses actually had wells inside the house, but I don’t remember it being used except for fun. But there must have been a time before plumbing and pipes, before mains water. I remember the mains water coming in followed very slowing by mains sewerage here. There is still a well, Dick Waterlow still has his own water which I don’t know if he gives it to Caroline’s Cottage or not now. Really of course the well water was fantastic.

47:07.0] DW one final question. If you run the clock forward 50 years, bearing in mind the changes that have happened over the last 50 years or not as the case may be, what do you think the village will look like on 50 years’ time? CC Visually? DW Just generally. CC  I think visually it won’t be so very different depending on what happens with the pub. I mean inevitably there will be a little bit more building but the structure of the village wont particularly change. I think the demographics of who is living here will change which is due to several factors. Mainly due to house prices if they do fall, but for someone who is living in London in a small flat a house in Oare is more than affordable and that makes such a huge difference. I have no objections if people come from London or anywhere to commute but then the village dies I think. DW Yes because it leaves the children of the people who are living here that don’t find the housing stock so affordable struggling. CC Absolutely and what we lack here is no council housing basically there is no farming so no farm cottages and if it wasn’t for Oare House who do provide cottages houses for their employees there would actually be very few local people living here now. DW Which is why it is so important that we record the memories of those that do. CC Absolutely and I should hate not to live here but in many ways what I liked about living here is beginning to go definitely and of course as my generation dies out the people who can remember how it was will go and once that’s gone the village will change and I can’t visualise how that will change but it will change. But I cannot see, would be very surprised if in 50 years’ time there is a village hall here. I just think that there won’t be the spirit to do it. Because I mean we do have younger newer members of the committee but mostly it is people who are trying to keep something going and I do wonder really if actually it’s worth it, of course it’s worth it but really whether that can continue if there is no driving force. DW Whether it is sustainable. CC Whether it is sustainable. I am not sure that it is unless we can have some land have some affordable housing and have local families and local children going to the school and who knows possibly a little pub. DW Well thank you Caroline for sharing your memories. CC It’s been a pleasure.