Hundon History
Hundon, Sudbury, Suffolk

A Brief History of Hundon
History of Hundon Farms
Memories of Hundon 1941 - 1943

 

 

 

A BRIEF HISTORY OF HUNDON

 By Leonard Caton

This extract from the Hundon Millennium Book entitled
"Parish of Hundon 2000" by the late Mr Leonard Caton is published
with the kind permission of Mrs Irene Caton
to whom we are extremely grateful


The Parish of Hundon 2000
By Leonard Caton

My idea leading to the compilation of this book arose when the Parish Council of another village where I then lived were looking for a permanent way of commemorating the approaching millennium. On moving to Hundon in 1998, I decided that the project could equally well apply in my new village, as nothing similar was proposed here.

An application for a Suffolk ACRE Millennium Award was made after the trauma of house removal had subsided in 1999. This was granted to my wife Irene and myself solely to cover the costs involved, and in November of that year with most of the £4,550 grant in the bank it was possible to start the project.

The aims were simply to record villagers lifestyles at this time and their memories with the results being produced in books. One to be deposited in the Public Record Office, one kept in the village and one being made for each house­hold in the village. Consulting the electoral regis­ter revealed that there were 884 people in it so the method of approaching them was to announce the project in advance through the ‘Hundon Herald’. This was then followed by letters, user friendly forms for completion and reply paid envelopes being sent to every person in the electoral register. These were all hand addressed to each individual. A special collection was made by the postal service and these then were delivered.

Further notices were placed in the ‘Hundon Herald’ to encourage and prompt people to reply with the offer of personal interviews for those who preferred not to write of themselves.

The completion date of 31st March 2000 was generously deferred by Suffolk ACRE Millennium Awards Committee on my being diagnosed as diabetic, the resulting diet much reducing energy levels.

The responses and interviews are of 147 residents which is a 16% return of the total.  For interests purposes their places of birth are shown in the appendix. This may seem to illustrate a pre­ponderance of newcomers to the parish but only a larger survey would confirm this general feeling.

It was intended that this book should be about the people of Hundon at this time but there is a

large element of historical matter in what they have to say and I have therefore added a brief history of the parish together with accounts of the many activities that the residents follow. The history I have produced only reflects the little that I have learned and there is much that I have yet to discover. Any errors in the account are attributable to me and no other.

Speaking for my wife and I we would like to thank the Suffolk ACRE Millennium Awards Committee for their grant which has funded this project and their tolerance. The encouragement of Nicola Beckett of Suffolk ACRE has been a great help.

We also thank the people of Hundon and those who have lived here for their contributions, be they small or large. We are well aware that there are many reasons why some have been unable to take part and it has not been possible for every­one to be approached personally.  It has been a privilege to meet and be accepted by so many who have shared their memories, information and photographs with us.

My own thanks go to my wife Irene who has done much ‘donkey work’, fielded enquiries, warded off visitors at inopportune moments and generally given help and advice as well as caring for me.

I am also grateful to Jock Whitehouse for his knowledgeable history of the airfield and Diana Barker, who sketches and paints under her maiden name of ‘Diana John’ for her skill and lively illustrations on one of the maps in the book. Also Mr.Steven Knight, who is producing the books, for his advice and expertise.

There is one other person I wish to thank. He immediately welcomed me to the village and has helped a newcomer who at first knew nobody. Mr. Bernard Forge has patiently answered my interminable questions and pointed me in the right directions to people who knew more. His hand of friendship and local knowledge has been invaluable.

To slightly misquote Shakespeare -

‘All the world’s a stage.

And all the men and women players’. Here are some of the players.

Leonard Caton

 

 

A Brief History of Hundon

To have the temerity to attempt a history after living for just two years in the parish with only occasional visits to the Public Record Office in Bury St. Edmunds may seem foolhardy, since there may well be others with more knowledge than I have garnered.

However, assembling and committing to print my fragmented account will hopefully add a little to what those others may already know or provide a basis which can be built on and developed. Making new discoveries about our predecessors and trying to understand the motives for their actions is a natural corollary for one who has spent his working life as a policeman. The evidence -the sources - for what I say have been gathered from the work of others and my own small researches.  Unfortunately there is no space here to list them.

EARLY TIMES

We shall never know for how long this valley has been settled. One of the oldest artefacts found here in 1926 is a copper tanged dagger, dated by the British Museum as Early Bronze Age (2500 BC to 1501BC), with a skull found in a pit off the Clare Road . Another is a Bronze Age (2500 BC to 701 BC) flint dagger found by soldiers digging a hole for a searchlight position at Bears Farm in 1939 and yet another is a flanged axe head of the same age found in 1961 on the western boundary of Stradishall (Hundon) Airfield.

A very recent find made just weeks before this article was written is what seems to be a leaf shaped chert/flint arrowhead with side notches found at Highpoint Prison in the mud on a boot of a Prison Officer who had been patrolling the grounds. This artefact is possibly of the Neolithic

Period (4000 BC to 2500 BC). The side notches are reportedly unique on a British arrow head and it is suggested that in view of this it could have been brought here from abroad where they are known.

The indications are that there were people moving about this area in those times but any dwellings from their settlements would have long since disappeared. It can be said that the valley would have been attractive since water from the brook and animals in the surrounding woods would provide sustenance.

THE DARK AGES

Picture Above: Edmund, King of East Anglia

ROMAN TIMES

Between 43 AD and 409 AD during the Roman occupation of the country they had a camp of about two acres in size at Clare and a probable settlement in Hundon north of Scotch Green Farm. In the 1930s, possibly when the airfield was being constructed brick, tile, nails, fragments of Samian ware pottery and castor ware were found which were dated as of the Roman Period. The pottery is associated with the Romans. The occupation site there was described by those investigating it as being 325 feet by 200 feet on a North West slope near springs and a stream.

More positive are the parch marks of a rectan­gular Roman villa found in a pasture field in 1996 at Chimney Street Farm. This measured about 75 feet by 45 feet and was divided into six areas, pos­sibly rooms. Some tile and Roman pottery was found on field surfaces there. Also from that peri­od are a brooch and knife blade which were found near Wash Farm House.

Roman writers of the time recorded the dra­matic episode involving Queen Boudicca and her Iceni tribe. The Queen was whipped and her two daughters were raped in an attempt to subdue her opposition to them. In revenge the Queen’s tribe united with the Trinovantes and they attacked and almost drove the Romans from the whole country. One of the battles is believed to have been near Haverhill and Hundon men could well have been involved as these tribes collectively covered this area.

There have been no finds made of the long period following the disintegration of the Roman Empire . The Romans departure from England was followed by the steady invasion of the region now known as East Anglia by Angles, Saxons and Frisians, mostly from Germany and then later invasions by the Danes.

Local information for the ‘Dark Ages’ is very sparse and the only reference I have is to the find­ing of 200 - 300 Anglo-Saxon coins of Kings Athelstan (925 - 940), Edmund (940 - 946) and Eadred   (946 - 955) when the Sexton was digging a grave in the churchyard in 1687. These were found near a skull. It has been claimed that this was a Viking burial since it was their practice to inter bodies with valuables. Whether this is so is uncertain.

Of the various rulers of East Anglia late in the period before the ‘Conquest’ the more notable ones were Earl Aelfgar who ruled here from 1051 -1057. He was the son of Leofric, Earl of Mercia and his wife Godgifu who is the famous Lady Godiva.  Earl Harold also held East Anglia in 1045 later becoming King of England and it was he who tried to defend the country in 1066 from the inva­sion by William the Conqueror.

THE NORMANS AND THE DOMESDAY BOOK

William the First’s survey of the country pres­ents the first written description of Hundon in The Domesday Book which was a statistical survey com­piled in 1086 to determine how much cultivated land there was, what it was worth and who held it.     One of the major reasons for the survey was for tax purposes. Part of the ‘Hundred’ of Risbridge, the two entries refer to Hundon as ‘Hinendana’ and ‘Hunedana’ which has been inter­preted as ‘Hune’s Valley’. Who Hune was is not known.

These are the two entries:

‘LANDS OF RICHARD SON OF COUNT GILBERT

HINENDANA: Withgar (held it) before 1066 as a manor; 25 carucates of land and 20 acres.

Then and later 54 villagers, now 41. Always 30 smallholders; 14 slaves.Then 9 ploughs in lordship, later 4, now 7; then 31 men’s ploughs.later and now 23.Meadow, 45 acres; woodland at 160 pigs; always 1 milLA church, ? carucate of free land. Another church, 4? acres.Always 1 plough. Meadow, 3 acres. Then 2 cobs, now 6; then 14 cat­tle, now 31;then 130 pigs, now 160; then 80 sheep, now480;now 17 beehives. Value then £30; later and now £40.4s. It has 2 leagues and 2 furlongs in length, and 1 league in width;15d in tax. Others hold there.’

‘In HUNEDANA:

1 Freeman; 1 carucate of land. Always 2 small-

holders.1 plough.Hamo holds (this).Then 30 sheep, now SO.Value 20s. In the same (HUNEDANA) 10 Freemen; 1 carucate of land. Always 1 plough.Meadow, 2 acres.Value 20s.’

The Richard referred to as the land owner was one of those who took part in the Conquest and was rewarded with the gift of many estates, 95 of them in Suffolk . One of them was Clare where he built a defensive castle and another was Hundon. A later Clare Lord founded the Augustinian Friary there. Virtually every Anglo Saxon land owner was eventually deprived of his holdings.

A carucate of land was 120 acres. 98 people are shown and these were recorded as individuals, not as heads of households. There would have been wives and children who were unrecorded so the population would have been possibly about 300. Slaves were often those who had been taken in battle or captured by raiders. They were used largely for ploughing on the larger, Lords estates, and if they had any children then they too would become slaves. Within a 100 years slaves became serfs with a little land and personal rights in the sight of the law.

The major church referred to is All Saints Church which is the oldest listed building in Hundon and has been dated as 14th Century. This would have replaced the earlier church which orig­inally would have been built of timber. All Saints was a ministering church or Minster with its priests serving the second, smaller church at Chilbourne, now Barnardiston church. There would probably also have been a link with Chipley Abbey with its few Augustinian friars who travelled about minis­tering to the sick and serving in local churches.

In 1090 an oak tree from a park in Hundon was granted to the priory in Clare to warm the monks and in the late 13 C two parks are mentioned.  By 1509 there were three deer parks on the undulat­ing slopes in the north of the parish. The parks were Broxted Park to the west. Great Park in the centre and Easty Park in the east. Great Park extended for about 600 acres down to Cock Lane and with the two smaller parks on either side measured about 1000 acres in all.

All three parks, which are unique in Suffolk for being in the one parish, had lodges and in 1315 a keeper is listed as being at Great Park .  No doubt there were other keepers for a lodge in Broxted Park has gone and stood on what is now the old airfield; the lodge for Great Park remains as Hundon Great Lodge Farm and that for Easty Park was probably at Appleacre Farm which was shown as Easty Lodge Farm in 1904 on the National Grid.

Whilst the various Lords at Clare enjoyed their leisure pursuits in a pleasant landscape they also ensured that the parks provided an income from the sale of coppicing and timber, from allowing grazing for cattle and pannage for pigs. Large trees went to Clare for repairs to the castle and one of the parks even had a horse stud. There were also fish ponds and Easty Park had a warren in it. Having existed for about 700 years they were no longer treated as deer parks by 1611 when the land was used for other purposes.

Picture Below: Thatcher’s Hall

LATE MEDIEVAL TIMES

In the 14th and 15th CAN Saints Church had many repairs made to it including the main structure and tower. Added to the church were a porch with a chamber above it.  In 1887 workmen were carrying out restoration there and in the process a complete water jug was uncovered in the soil below the north aisle. This was examined and said to be a jug for domestic rather than religious use. It was dated as 14th C and could well have been mislaid by the builders who were working on the church then and found some 500 years later by builders doing similar work.

The rnid-14th C saw the arrival of the bubonic plague known as ‘The Black Death’ and no doubt there are people lying in All Saints churchyard who suffered this terrible disease. Records of them and their numbers have yet to be discovered. The plague was at its worst in 1349, although it recurred in later years, and it is usually accepted that where it struck an average of a third of the population would have died. Sudbury suffered severely but Clare not so much so.

About 1435 the house now known as Thatcher’s Hall in North Street was built.  Known as a ‘Wealdon’ type house it had a fireplace later with three arched niches above the lintel and a wall painting with the representation of the ‘Agnus Dei’ with a lamb, halo, crucifix and pennant. The suggestion is that that house may have been that of a priest who was possibly connected with Chipley Abbey.

The De Clare family initially retained the Honour of Clare, the Hundon Manor being part of it, but through marriage and inheritance owner­ship eventually passed through the Earl of March to the Duke of York and thence in 1461 to Edward IV and so became the property of the Crown.  In 1540 Henry VIII granted the manor to Ann a of Cleves, his fourth wife, for their wedding (which only lasted 6 months) and then it was with his fifth wife, Katherine in 1546.

In 1548 Pinhoe Hall was vested in John Coggeshall. This manor was formerly called Purowe, Gorreles or Penowe Hall.  It is likely that a building with one of these names stood inside the moat which remains to this day at Pinhoe Hall. In the time of Henry VIM an action was taken in the Court of Star Chamber for ‘forcible ouster’ (deprivation of a freehold) in Hundon by one John Cokysall against Thomas Carr and others. This is probably the same man as John Coggeshall. There are references to a Hagden Hall and land in Hundon in an action in Chancery Proceedings in the time of Queen Elizabeth I by a Roger Coggeshall against William Higham.

The British Museum holds records that show extracts from the courts of Queen Elizabeth I which were held at Hundon on the 20th February 1573 and the 21st January 1574. The Queen would not have been present since they were held in her name by the Lord of the Manor or his repre­sentative to deal with criminal and other matters. Similarly there were views of frankpledge in 1574, 1580, 1581 and 1582. The Manor was then held by the Duchy of Lancaster.

Picture Above: Thatcher’s Hall Wall Painting

Picture Above: Ann a of Cleeves

ELIZABETHAN TIMES

The Poor Law Act of 1601 required each parish to be responsible for its own poor and already in existence by the will of Thomas Rogeron in 1480 was his charity which left one sixth of his annual land income to be distributed in kind to the poor of Hundon.  In 1602 an action was made concern­ing a farmhouse and lands forming part of this charity. Another parcel of this charity land, named as ‘Thousand Acres’ at the northern end of Chimney Street close to Bachelors Hall, had a rec­tangular moat on it which was shown on the 1846 Hundon Tithe Map. The moat has since been filled in. Another charity affected in 1690 was that of William Rich who provided for bread to be distrib­uted to the poor at Hallowmass and Christmas.

When Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603 the popu­lation of Hundon was 400 adults, possibly twice as many as at the time of Domesday. The area was described as wood and pasture and the people worked mainly on  rearing and dairying cattle, with some pig keeping, horse breeding and keep­ing poultry.    The crops grown were mainly barley with some wheat, rye, oats, peas, vetches and hops.

THE 17th CENTURY

During the disquiet which led to the Civil War William Dowsing, who was born in Laxfield in Suffolk , came to All Saints Church in 1643 and his Puritanical beliefs led him and others to destroy 30 pictures and take down three popish inscriptions there as well as ordering the steps to be levelled. He did similar damage in over 150 Suffolk churches where he smashed stained glass windows, brasses or anything that he thought had Roman Catholic overtones.

In that same century on the 13th April, 1676, the church wardens submitted a return ordered by the Archbishop. This stated that the number of adults in Hundon receiving Communion were 356, and that there were no Popish Recusants or people suspected of it in the parish.  In addition it went on to say that the number of dissenters ‘who obstinately refuse or wholely dissent themselves from the Church of England’ were Thomas and John Potter and sundry other families who are very poor and orphans not regarding God or man, many wicked and loose persons’.

From this it appears that the population figures were much the same as seventy years previously. At this time, as well as those employed on the land, there were said to be 1 bricklayer, 3 carpen- ters, 3 tailors, 3 maltsters, 1 miller, 1 sawyer, 1 draper, 1 grocer, 1 shopkeeper, and 1 butcher.

In 1643 had been born a James Vernon who became Principal Secretary of State to King William III in 1697. He was the Rt. Hon James Vernon and in 1701 was appointed by the King to be an Envoy Extraordinary to the King of Denmark. He had three sons one of whom became Admiral Edward Vernon,

famous as a sailor and for introducing the issue of rum to sailors. The Admiral became known as ‘Old Grog’.

THE 18th CENTURY

Picture Below: Workhouse Yard

 

Another son, the eldest, was also called James and he became another great Hundon benefactor.  He acquired the manor of Hundon and some time before 1733 provided workhouses for Hundon, Wickhambrook and Stradishall. These were erect­ed ‘for the encouragement and support of the industrious poor’ living in those parishes.  He also provided for the payment of the wages and salaries of the workhouses Masters and Dames

In May 1733 the same James was referred to as ‘the Honourable James Vernon of the parish of St. George, Hanover Square in the County of Middlesex’ when he made a deed for the augmentation of the maintenance of poor Clergy and with John Norfolk, Vicar of Hundon for the augmentation of his vicarage.

Additionally James Vernon granted monies in 1737 to provide a school for the poor children of Hundon and £10 for the Masters and Dames there. A building near the church was used as a school.

In 1728 James Vernon’s wife Arethusa had died at the age of 38. She was the daughter of Lord Clifford and she was buried beneath a pyramidal monument, the Vernon family monument, adja­cent to the porch in Hundon churchyard.  By 1988 this monument had been demolished due to its disintegration but a portion in the shape of a wheat sheaf is kept in the church. In 1736 the Hon. James Vernon was said to be ‘of Great Thurlow’ and it is not known whether he actually resided in Hundon where he owned much of the land.

Later that century, on the 17th February 1791, a complete peal of 5040 changes was rung on the six bells at All Saints Church by James Brady, James Rodgers, Thomas Rutter, John Hinds, Henry Gilbert and Thomas Summers. The peal took three hours and ten minutes to ring. Thomas Summers, ring­ing the tenor bell, called the peal, and was said to have died in July that year, aged 44, from his exer­tions. He was buried on the south side of the churchyard and part of the inscription on his grave stone was said to state that the church bells were ‘in bad going order at the time the peal was rung’.

THE 19th CENTURY

March 1801 saw the first population census enquiry when there were said to be 824 inhabi­tants in Hundon. The 1831 census shows that this was a laborious task carried out on foot by David Potter, Church Warden and Francis French, a householder, who called from door to door. No names or addresses were then shown. The results gave totals of 577 males and 544 females, all aged over 20 years. No account was made of children The total of 1,121 adults comprised 215 families and they lived in 208 houses.  198 people were in agriculture, 20 being farmers and the remainder labourers. There were 11 carpenters, 9 blacksmiths, 7 brick layers, 5 boot and shoe makers or menders, 4 shop keepers, 3 publicans or retailers of beer, 3 millers, 3 butchers, 3 wheelwrights, 3 saddlers, 2 tailors, 2 glovers, 2 maltsters, 1 cooper and 18 female servants.

In 1829 there were 16 free scholars being taught by Mr. French at the endowed school. They were Mary Smith aged 10, Eliza Rogers, 10, Charlotte Rogers, 10, Eliza Burrows. 11, Ann French, 12, Cumi (?) Cooper, 12, George Forge, 8, Joseph Burrows, 8, Sergeant Knock, 9, Thomas Braybrook, 9, John Green, 9, John Cooper, 10, William Cornall, 11, Elijah Ling, 11, Joseph Stiff, 11 and Elijah Ling (William’s son), 12.

Some of these family names are still present in the parish.. The teachers at the school were allowed to instruct other fee paying pupils.

Religious nonconformity was present in Hundon occasioned by high Church practices causing a considerable number of inhabitants to secede from the Established Church well before the Chapel was built in 1846. Some attended Wickhambrook Congregational Church built in 1734 and the Presbyterian Minister from there was carrying out baptisms in Hundon. A License for Worship in the house of William Lovett of Hundon was obtained as early as 1672.  In 1779 a barn in Hundon owned by John Thomas was licensed and Robert Bear of Pentlow similarly had both a house and then a barn, both occupied by James Golding, licensed in 1804.

The Chapel in Hundon was built at a cost of £450, the licence for it being obtained by Charles Hale, a farmer living at Broxted Lodge.  It is not known how the money was raised but Charles Hale farmed 297 acres, paying £78.5s.0d in tithes, and he may well have provided much of it. First built with one large room of two-storey height this was altered in 1860 to provide a gallery all round and a vestry was added. The chapel was then capable of seating 340 people and member­ship was high for well over 100 years. Many weddings, baptisms and funerals took place there and it is known that since 1882 at least 13 burials took place in the grounds {six of them being children under the age of 3 years).

By 1853 the Manor of Hundon had passed by inheritance and marriage to Sir Robert Harland, Bart, who had married Arethusa, sister of John Vernon.  In 1852 Lady Harland, as representative of the Vernon Charity for the school, gave the usual £10 per annum as did the Rogeron Charity. The numbers attending the school that year were 15 free boys and 15 free girls and rules were drawn up regarding their attendance and behaviour by the Vicar, R.W. Stoddart, and the Churchwardens Henry Hammond and Charles Deeks.

The rules included the age of admission as being not under 7 years nor to remain at school beyond the age of 13 years. Children were to find their own books and pay for firing in the winter half year and also pay for pens and ink if supplied. No ‘natural’ child was to be admitted free. Holidays were every Saturday, with one week at Christmas and Easter and one month in Harvest Time.

In 1859 the school was enlarged with another building behind the school and in March that year the rules were amended to allow 20 free boys and 20 free girls admission from the age of 5 years but still being required to leave at 13 years. Also there was to be an Examination of the children once a year. Natural children were still not admitted free. In this year the Vernon Charity gave the usual £10 per annum but the Rogeron Charity gave £30.

The early Education Acts commencing in 1870, leading to compulsory but free education, resulted in the present school being built in 1875 with the old school being used as a Church Sunday School. The 1881 census shows that there were 73 boys and 80 girls aged between 5 and 11 in the parish who could now receive free education - including the ‘natural’ children.

PARISH COUNCIL

In 1894 the Parish Council was inaugurated follow­ing the Local Government Act of that year which introduced them in place of the old Parish Vestry Meetings. The Council’s first meeting was held in the Old School room on the 14th December. 1894. The following were declared to have been elected as the seven Councillors: Richard Brown of Pinhoe Hall; Rev. Arthur Hamp of The Vicarage; Rev. William M. Hawkins (Congregational Minister) of The Manse; George Seeley of North Street; Harry Turner of North Street; Frank Turner of North Street and Charles William Whiting of Valley Wash. Harry Whiting, who had been an Assistant Overseer of the Poor, became their Clerk.

The cost of the election was Ss.Od and the Clerk was to be paid Ss.Od for each monthly meet­ing with an additional 1s.Od for lighting, warming and preparing the meeting room.

Problems with drinking water and footpaths were the first two parish matters confronting the new Council. The Jubilee pump needed repairing and the residents at Mount Pleasant were com­plaining of the bad supply of water there A sub­committee was formed to examine various local springs in an attempt to get further water sup­plies. The footpath at the allotments needed mak­ing good and the ditch clearing out there. Five years later the Council agreed that “Hundon is sadly deficient in its supply of water” but the same year saw the Council’s Chairman “having the pleas­ure of turning the first sod for the water works well, after invoking the Divine blessing on the undertaking”.   1899 also saw the proposal that a Telegraph Office should be established in Hundon.

Picture Above: The Chapel

THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Much of the 20thC history of Hundon has either been related to the older residents or is remem­bered by them and recalled in their memories in this book and they are able to tell of incidents and give anecdotes which add colour to what follows. In February 1914 occurred the disastrous fire at All Saints Church which completely destroyed all the woodwork of the structure, the pews, the floor and the roof. The six bells all fell to the ground and whilst some church records were saved those that remain are charred and stored in the Public Record Office. Water used to combat the blaze had to be taken from ponds there not being a public supply then. The church was re-built by Messrs. Rattee and Kett of Cambridge and com­pleted in 1916.

Picture Above: The Church after the fire in 1914

THE FIRST WORLD WAR

By that time the Great War had been fought for two years and air raids by German Zeppelins on East Anglia caused the Parish Council to write to the Chief Constable to ‘ask for permission to receive notice of air raids whenever threatened’.

By the end of the war in 1918 thirteen local servicemen had lost their lives.  Privates William Alien, George Cuthbert, Christopher Gagen, Stanley Goodchild, Oliver Ling, Peter H. Mortlock, Alfred Osborne, George W. Pledger, Stoker Thomas Pledger R.N., Privates O Thomas Rogers, Benjamin Starling, Charles Taylor and Joseph Taylor have their names inscribed on the War Memorial which was subsequently erected in the churchyard in 1937 at the behest of the local branch of the Royal British Legion at a cost of £15.

In 191S ex-servicemen who had returned to the parish were offered a six-roomed house with ? an acre of land by the West Suffolk County Council and during the following years the Clare Rural District Council started building houses in the vil­lage.

In 1935 the parish celebrated King George V’s Jubilee Year at the school and the Parish Council debated whether a Parish Hall should be built. The same Council requested that white lines be painted on the road surface ‘at all corners in the parish owing to excessive traffic to and from the aerodrome’ as work on building Hundon airfield had commenced. This became known as Stradishall Airfield to prevent any confusion between Hundon, Hunsdon and Hendon.

THE SECOND WORLD WAR

The impact on Hundon of the presence of the air­field had such a great local effect that the story of the airfield, the men, women, aeroplanes and their exploits is best told at length by Mr. Jock Whitehouse of 23 Windmill Rise, Hundon. A well known authority on the subject I leave the telling to him.

ROYAL AIR FORCE STRADISHALL 1938-197O

Royal Air Force Stradishall was one of few East Anglian stations which remained under RAF con­trol for all of its service life. Its history is complex, for in its thirty-two years, it hosted at least thirty-eight flying units and operated thirty-five types of aircraft within Bomber, Transport, Flighter or Training Commands.

Many permanent well-appointed bases were built in the United Kingdom during the 1930’s, the majority down the eastern side of the country. Their need was clear cut, for after years of hesitan­cy and reluctance to recognise the growing threat in Europe, suitable airfields were required for the modern aircraft of both home defence fighter squadrons, especially near to London , and of the then long-range day bomber squadrons attacking European targets.

RAF Stradishall, on its plateau of heavy clay opened in February 1938 as a two-squadron, heavy-bomber base in No. 3 Group Bomber Command, although the neglected state of the Air Force was reflected in the aircraft flown by the two squadrons which took up residence. No.9 Squadron was equipped with the obsolete Handley-Page Heyford, a twin-engined bi-plane bomber whose three crew were open to the ele­ments. No. 148 Squadron flew the single-engine monoplane Vickers Wellesley, with enclosed crew positions, a reasonable performance but a miser­able bomb load. Any form of bombing or naviga­tional aids were completely unknown at this time. Although 3 Group patiently awaited the arrival of the new Vickers Wellington it flew and trained hard in its outdated aircraft. 9 Squadron received their Wellingtons in February 1939 then in July moved to RAF Honington-a similar base to Stradishall, but built on light free-draining soil. After a spell with Heyfords, 148 Squadron convert­ed to the Wellington in March 1939 and remained at Stradishall until the outbreak of war, when it moved out to Harwell.

No. 75 Squadron made the return journey from Honington, arriving at Stradishall in July 1939 hav­ing just re-equipped with the Wellington , and also moved to Harwell on the outbreak of war.

During the so-called ‘Phoney War’, Stradishall was relatively inactive apart from the formation of two Blenheim fighter squadrons- Nos.236 and 254, in October 1939, but not of 3 Group, they moved out to Martlesham Heath and Sutton Bridge respectively to undertake coastal defence duties. The reality of outdated policies was tragically learned in Deceniber 1939 when Wellington squadrons, including No.9, suffered disastrous loss­es of aircraft and crews on unescorted daylight operations against German shipping. . Bomber Command then had to resort to night operations for which it was totally unprepared.

Work continued at Stradishall to bring it up to operational readiness - a main priority being the provision of concrete runways and dispersals, experience having shown that heavy wet clay did not lend itself to operating heavy bombers!

With the stage set for a night bomber offen­sive with all its unknowns, RAF Stradishall truly entered the war when No.214 Squadron, a Wellington unit, arrived from Methwold in February 1940. As the base was still not yet opera­tionally ready, 214 squadron crews regularly oper­ated with 9 Squadron from Honington, but in June, 214 flew its first operations from Stradishall attacking troop concentrations in the Black Forest area of Germany .

During May and June 1940 when the country prepared for possible invasion, pale blue or even pink-painted Spitfires would slip into Stradishall to top up their fuel tanks. These were some of the first unarmed photo-rece. aircraft which flew at high-altitude gathering valuable information on the enemy. Apart from the actual re-fuelling - nec­essary to maximise range - details of the sortie being flown were not discussed! A less glamorous arrival were the Fairey Battles of 150 Squadron, whose battered remnants escaped the debacle tak-

ing place in France . In spite of this, the squadron was put on immediate combat readiness. When the scare subsided, 150 Squadron moved to Newton to rest and re-equip with the Wellington .

214 Squadron continued attacking a variety of targets, and while Fighter Command was engaged in the Battle of Britain, Bomber Command inflicted heavy losses amongst the fleet of invasion barges deployed and ready in Channel ports. The squadron made its first attack on Berlin in August but sadly also lost its first crew on operations.

Personnel at Stradishall had a chance to ‘meet’ the enemy in August when a Dornier, damaged by ground fire near Duxford, crash-landed near Wickhambrook and its four-man crew were brought to the station for safe keeping.

The Germans were also experts in high-altitude photography and on 3 September, whilst the fight­er battle raged, a high-flying JU86, in complete safety, continued the coverage of eastern England returning home with superbly detailed images of RAF Stradishall and the surrounding countryside.

Stradishall then housed a most unusual unit controlled not by 3 Group HQ, but by Air Ministry. In September 1940 a Whitley bomber arrived unexpectedly heralding the setting up of a clan­destine transport unit, tasked with delivering SOE personnel and supplies to the Resistance move­ment in occupied Europe . Four-engined Halifaxes , with their better capacity and longer range were also used as were the unique Lysanders which nipped in and out of French fields delivering and collecting agents(male and female). The Whitleys were converted for dropping parachutists or sup­plies. No.419 Flight (Special Duties) was re-num­bered 1419 Flight and later became No. 138 Squadron. It moved between Stradishall and Newmarket until 1942 when the whole operation transferred to RAF Tempsford.

Another special unit which operated from Stradishall was a radio investigation Flight from No. 109 Squadron which sent out single Wellingtons over Europe , often accompanying the bomber stream, to try and detect and identify enemy radio transmissions. This was the start of the new science of Electronic Counter Measures which was to play such a vital role in future night offensives. By this time several navigational and bombing aids were being developed and at Stradishall in 1942, 109 Squadron personnel, against all odds, undertook the testing of ‘Oboe’, a new bombing aid. After rejecting the Lancaster and a high-altitude version of the Wellington , the team successfully installed the equipment into the new Mosquito. 109 Squadron’s detachments then concentrated at Wyton as part of the new Pathfinder Force.

No doubt as a result of the aerial survey, the Luftwaffe knew where RAF Stradishall was! At teatime on Sunday 3 November 1940, two very low-flying JuSB’s appeared out of the gloom, dropped their bombs, machine-gunned the station and left. One man was killed, several buildings were damaged, and No.2 hangar was wrecked. A second attack was made in December, the station escaped but two soldiers were killed when their billet in Steeplechase was hit.

214 Squadron flew doggedly on throughout 1940, 1941 and into 1942. The crews were often faced with appalling weather conditions over northern Europe but rarely turned back in spite of having no reliable technical help on board. The cost was high in terms of crews lost.

Although the Wellington had, and would con­tinue to perform well, Bomber Command was changing into a ‘heavy-bomber’ force, and its squadrons were quickly converting to the Lancaster, Halifax , or in the case of 3 Group, the Stirling , all four-engined heavy bombers.

214 converted to the mighty Stirling at Stradishall in April/May 1942, and after only a few operations, flew on the first 1,000-bomber raid on Cologne on May 30/31. 3 Group Stirlings flew ahead of the main force successfully illuminating the target with incendiaries for the following bombers. Further operations were to all the main targets plus mine-laying sorties off the enemy coast. Losses continued, mainly over Europe but one badly damaged aircraft with a dead rear-gun­ner, just managed to crash-land on the airfield, whilst another was not so lucky and crashed behind Bears Farm. Six crew members were killed but ironically, this time it was the rear gunner who survived.

The rapid expansion of Bomber Command plus the high loss rate of crews, now required specialist units geared to turning out qualified heavy-bomber crews for the operational squadrons. Stradishall with its excellent facilities was selected for one such unit in 3 Group, and in October 1942, 214 Squadron moved to Chedburgh, a hastily built and very spartan satellite which itself reflected the need for more and more bomber airfields. No. 1657. Heavy Conversion Unit formed at Stradishall with 30 Stirlings and a target of 30 bomber crews per month. Many of the instructors were ex-opera­tional crews —‘resting’, but the flying programme was heavy and quite dangerous and a number of fatal accidents occurred.. However, until the HCU closed in December 1944 its target was regularly

exceeded. 1657 HCU was replaced by No. 186 Squadron, an operational Lancaster unit. Stradishall was back in the war.

As the Allies advanced toward Germany in early 1945, Bomber Command undertook a more tactical role, hitting specific targets such as roads, railways, troop movements and oil/fuel depots. Our increasing air superiority over Europe enabled more daylight sorties to take place and 186 Squadron flew continuously in this role making only a limited number of night raids. Many aircrew were experienced ‘second-tour’ men and this, plus the use of G-H, an excellent system of target find­ing, produced good results. Three squadrons (the ‘Clutch of Three’) were controlled by Stradishall in its role as 31 Base HQ: its own No. 186, No. 195 from Wratting Common, and No.218ftom Chedburgh.

By April 1945 the end was near, and Stradishall’s last offensive operation was on April 24 when its Lancasters attacked and destroyed the railway yards of Bad Oldesloe in north Germany . However, there was still work to be done. Operation ‘Manna’ was set up to drop desperately needed food and supplies to the starving Dutch people in north-west Holland and Operation ‘Exodus’ saw the fleets of redundant bombers used to bring back vast numbers of liberated ex-prison­ers of war. Both Bomber Command and the American Eighth Air Force took part in these oper­ations which gave immense satisfaction to the air­crews.

The involvement of Bomber Command in the continuing Far Eastern conflict did not finally materialise. 186 Squadron flew a variety of train­ing sorties plus a series of radar investigation flights, but in July 1945, with many other squadrons, it disbanded, its personnel dispersed and its war-weary aircraft flown out for storage and eventual scrapping.

The final cessation of all hostilities presented a huge transport problem, especially in the Far East where there was an urgent need to replace long-serving personnel re-supply and to bring home ex-prisoners of war and the wounded. To boost air-supply capability some squadrons quickly changed from a bomber to a transport role. Nos. 51 and 158 (both Yorkshire-based Halifax squadrons) quickly converted to the transport versions of the Stirling, moved to Stradishall in June 1945 and began the long-haul business to and from India via Libya . After 158 Squadron disbanded. No. 51 con­tinued the work but after converting to the Avro York it moved to Waterbeach in August 1946.

Bomber Command returned to Stradishall in 1946, when four squadrons arrived with white-painted Lancasters . Nos. 115 and 149 were both ex-3 Group, No. 35 had been a Pathfinder unit at Graveley, and although No. 207 came in from Tuddenham, it had been Lincolnshire-based in the war. This was a frustrating period for a much depleted Bomber Command equipped with old aircraft and suffering a desperate shortage of trained personnel. The squadrons had to be ‘pooled’ to produce an effective force, but they flew and trained hard and gradually things improved and morale rose. The larger Avro Lincoln, and a number of Boeing B.29’s helped Bomber Command as it prepared for the age of the jet-bomber( Canberra ) but not at Stradishall. Its four squadrons retained their Lancasters until early 1949 when they all departed for greater things. Bomber Command had severed its links with RAF Stradishall for the last time.

Thus began the period of the ‘Cold War’ when Russia and the West—allies in the recent conflict, became potential aggressors and by necessity became involved in a crippling arms race made more deadly nuclear capability. Conflicts, as in Korea , had illustrated the real danger, and the need to increase the number of operational jet-fighter squadrons especially for home defence was quickly recognised.

Stradishall’s new role reflected that of the Heavy Conversion Unit in WW2, but this time it had to turn out jet-fighter pilots trained to opera­tional standard. Fighter Command had arrived. No.226 Operational Conversion Unit was equipped mainly with the two-engined single-seat Gloster Meteor(Mks 4 and 8) which, with the De Havilland Vampire was our primary front-line fighter, although Vampire training played only a minor part at Stradishall. Freshly qualified pilots under­went an intensive flying, gunnery and ground instruction course after which the successful ones now regarded as ‘operationally -ready’ would be posted out to front-line units. Flying was demand­ing and pushed young men to the limits—there was no room for error in combat— and inevitably a price was paid with several fatal accidents. The instructors were of the highest quality, many were ex-WW2 fighter-pilots-some even of Battle of Britain vintage, but their experience produced the results needed and 226 OCU enjoyed an excellent reputation.

Perhaps as some kind of Thank you’, when the OCU moved out in June 1955, RAF Stradishall returned to the ‘sharp end’ and for a few exciting years hosted a glorious mix of fighter units tasked with day and night home defence, Meteors, Venoms, Javelins and Hunters(fighter and ground attack versions) gracing Stradishall’s tarmac.

Nos. 125,253,245,152, 89,85,263,208,43, 56,111,1 and 54 Squadrons all ‘passed through’ and at times up to five units were operating simul­taneously, different aircraft, different roles, night and day! Both the Venom night-fighter and the Javelin all-weather fighters were two-seaters, the presence of a navigator reflecting the future reduction of single-seat fighter operations in the RAF, and it was this resulting need for more navi­gators which dictated the next and last role for Royal Air Force Stradishall.

After the Hunter FCA9’s left in 1961, and until closure in 1970 Stradishall operated within Training Command, hosting No. 1 Air Navigation School, (motto: ‘Seek the Way’) Specialist units were needed to satisfy the ever increasing need for navigators in both the ‘high-fast’ (fighters) and ‘low slow’ (transport) roles and once again

Stradishall’s facilities proved ideal. Initially the back seat of old Meteor NF12’s and 14’s provided the ‘fast’ element plus a facility to familiarise offi­cers returning to operational units from desk or staff appointments, and the Varsity (a direct descendant from the Wellington) provided a spa­cious flying ‘classroom’ for students. The arrival of the superb twin-jet ‘Dominie’, the high perform­ance military version of the US 12 5 executive jet­liner increased markedly the flow of ‘fast-jet’ navi­gators for ‘Phantom’ and Tornado’ units. Further re-organisation of the Air Force required fewer stations, and in 1970 RAF Stradishall was declared surplus to requirements’. The Varsity had finished its career, the Dominies moved to Finningley and currently serve today as a navigational trainer at RAF Cranwell.

Royal Air Force Stradishall finally closed in late 1970 and could look back on thirty-two years of dedicated service. Apart from its military role, the influence of the station filtered out into the com­munity and many stories ( perhaps not all!) can be told of the varied relationships which developed across the ‘boundary fence’. Hundon certainly had a special place as the majority of the airfield lay within our parish. When the village expanded in the late 1960’s, a garden competition for the new arrivals was judged by the wife of the Station Commander. No. 1 ANS also presented us with a superb aerial photograph of the village (Famerie Readjust starting).

Many Stradishall personnel lived in and around the village (‘I used to stand in the garden and wave to him as his aircraft went over’) and some return. They might visit St.Margaret’s Church Stradishall to see the Memorial Window and Book of Remembrance containing the names of 650 who died from RAF Stradishall, go up to see the fine memorial outside ‘Stirling Household Officers’ Mess) or come down into the village to see our own memorial which commemorates those service­men and women who died within our parish (list­ed in the Rolls of Honour in the church and the vil­lage hall but not all from RAF Stradishall) and explains the reason for the aircraft symbol on the village sign!   Jock Whitehouse.’

The existence of the airfield in Hundon was apparent to all, unlike the secrecy that surrounded the selection, training and missions of agents of the Special Operations Executive and Auxiliary Units at Bachelors Hall, Babel Green.  Events there did not become known until long after the war. Mrs. Jennifer Montague, now resident at Bachelors Hall, has kindly provided an account of some of the nature of the hidden war time history sur­rounding the unobtrusive house tucked away in a quiet country lane

‘When we purchased Bachelors Hall in 1991 it was known from legal enquiries that the house had been requisitioned by the army during the Second World War, but were totally oblivious of its very secret past until a Mr. Arthur Gabbitas con­tacted me in 1991 to explain the part that Bachelors Hall had played.

We are there forever indebted to Mr. Gabbitas who over the years has been so very generous with his time in keeping us updated with informa­tion and annual events and for allowing us so many documents, letters and photographs. It is in his memory that I dedicate the following as very sadly Mr. Gabbitas passed away in May 1999.

The British Resistance Organisation 1940-1944.

The need to organise civilian resistance to a German invasion was recognised in Great Britain as early as 1938, and although no funds were made available a small Foreign Office sub-section began investigating guerrilla tactics and weaponry.

Early recruits to the nascent British Resistance were initially selected by a Major Gubbins but progress was delayed when he was selected for other duties in Poland . After the outbreak of war explosives and other stores were dumped around Britain but there was still very little effective co­ordination.

Thankfully Gubbins, now a Colonel, returned from Norway . He immediately began work on an underground army of resistance fighters.  He answered directly to the Commander in Chief at GHQ Home Forces - Field Marshall Ironside - and the enterprise caught the imagination of Winston Churchill himself, and is said to have inspired the famous ‘We will fight them on the beaches...’ speech.

Auxiliary Units, the cover-name given to the organisation, consisted of two parts. The first con­sisted of specially selected civilians with a good knowledge of their local area and a high standard of physical fitness. The second was a smaller and less publicised half of Auxiliary Units comprising around 100 men and officers of the Royal Signals and 43 women of the A.T.S.

Serious selection and training began in 1940 and following this a number of radio ‘hams’ were detailed to design a radio telephony set, simple to use, able to withstand damp, operating on ultra high frequency and powered by large 6 volt accu­mulator batteries.

The Signals HQ was established at Bachelors Hall where the sets were constructed in wooden cases. Signals personnel were trained here in the operation and maintenance of the sets, and from Bachelors Hall three-man units were established in key positions around the coast from Scotland to Wales , manned by two wireless operators and one instrument mechanic.

In 1942 and 1943 ninety three women, many of them in the A.T.S., were quietly asked to volunteer for an interesting and possibly dangerous assign­ment. Those who volunteered were told to report for an interview in, of all places, the public lounge on the 4th floor of Harrods in Knightsbridge.

At the interviews the women were never told about the work they were being considered for, what special qualifications or qualities it demand­ed or anything else. Their interviewer was ‘a pret­ty A.T.S. Major who on some occasions wore a tar­tan skirt with her uniform’. She was Beatrice Temple, the niece of the newly enthroned Archbishop of Canterbury.

Some women heard nothing but many received formal orders from the War Office to proceed by train to Marks Tey in Essex . There they changed to the Cambridge line, got off at Haverhill and crossed the road to the Rose and Crown public house. An army car with the number ‘490’ in a white and red formation plaque on its wing col­lected them and they were taken through narrow winding lanes to a large house set back from a lonely lane on the outskirts of a village.

In the house the women were given slips of paper by a Royal Corps of Signals Officer who, with no explanation at all, asked them to read into a microphone. When the women had done this, and still no wiser, they were driven back to Haverhill and told to return to their units.

For some of the women the mystery remained a mystery, but for the others, only after they had signed the Official Secrets Act, were they told that they had been enrolled in the most secret part of Britain ’s most secret wartime organisation -Auxiliary Units.

When Auxiliary Units were disbanded in November 1944 Royal Signals personnel returned to Catterick for re-training. Most were then allo­cated to other theatres of war. Since that time lit­tle was revealed.  Many took their secrets to the grave and only recently were survivors willing to talk. Such security also meant that they were never officially recorded and therefore never recognised. So while others were hailed as heroes, Britain ’s Secret Army was not.

Time immemorial has yielded so many unsung heroes. I feel very fortunate to have known, albeit briefly, Mr. Gabbitas and that our paths crossed in peacetime. Jennifer Montague.’

Major Colin Gubbins served in MI{R) - Military Intelligence Research - and was knowledgeable in guerrilla tactics.  His trip to Poland was to help to organise Polish and Czech resistance to a Nazi invasion and he did similar work in France and Norway before returning home and creating the Auxiliary Units here.  He later became Major-General Sir Colin Gubbins.

The first part of these Units referred to by Mrs. Montague were men trained by soldiers with ini­tiative who had been gamekeepers, wild-fowlers, experienced hikers and mountaineers, men who could find their way around the country. The men they recruited were poachers, farmers, miners, par­sons, physicians, local councillors, blacksmiths, pub­licans and so on, those who could keep a secret whilst going about their normal jobs. Their ages ranged from 17 to 70 and they were put in the Home Guard which was a cover for their training. Sworn to secrecy most of their wives knew nothing of what they were really about and one farm worker’s wife thought that during the war her husband had spent several nights a week with another woman.

Organised in patrols each Unit had under­ground hide-outs with caches of arms, ammunition and food and they were the first to be given ‘plas­tic’ explosives. In the event of a German invasion they were expected to use the guerrilla tactics they had been taught against the enemy. Fortunately this didn’t become necessary.

Mrs. Ursula Pennell of Church Street also gives an account in this book of her role as a recruited member of the Auxiliary Units.  Her function would have been to provide intelligence of the enemy should they have invaded in Norfolk .

Of course men and women of the parish served in the armed forces during the war as well as some who were required to remain in reserved occupa­tions. One of these was to continue producing food for the nation since this became in short sup­ply and was rationed due to lack of imports.  In time they were assisted by Land Army women and Prisoners of War on local farms.  Local men who died in the services and are also commemorated on the war memorial in the churchyard are Leonard Gridley, Leslie Mallion, George Mansfield, Jack Missen and Donald Smith.

Also remembered are the many service men and women who died in the parish between 1938 and 1970 on a memorial which was dedicated on the 14th May 1995. This is placed in front of the village sign which was erected in 1984 having been designed and organised by the ladies of Hundon Women’s Institute.

Picture Above: RAF War Memorial

RECENT TIMES

Following the war the many changes in an increas­ingly mobile and more affluent society are reflect­ed in the story of Hundon.

In 1970 the airfield was closed which resulted in some RAF families leaving the parish but this coincided with the commencement of the building of new houses mostly at Farmerie Road , Galley Road and Windmill Rise. The population which had been 663 in 1971 rose to 1,421 in 1981. The attractions of village life, changing job patterns, retirement and other reasons drew people here. In 1881 the population was 885 including children and they lived in 259 dwellings with a further 33 houses being uninhabited.   In 1981 the 1,421 inhabitants lived in 442 houses.

In 1976 the Home Office had Highpoint Prison built on part of the old airfield land. The unoccu­pied quarters and buildings left by the R.A.F. had been used to temporarily house Ugandan Asian refugees and they had moved on to more perma­nent homes. Those houses were then used to pro­vide quarters for some of the Prison Officers and the R.A.F. Officers’ Mess was retained and taken into use. Some of the Prison Officers chose to live in Hundon and have remained here after retire­ment. More than 700 male and female prisoners are housed separately in the prison watched over by 160 uniform officers of all grades plus a further 140 catering and administrative staff.

A very recent event was the closure of the Chapel in North Street in 1999.  The first indication that attendance was falling was in 1964 when it was decided to erect a false ceiling between the galleries and the floor. This also helped to make the building warmer. The Chapel and AH Saints

Church divided the profit of £216 received when the Village Reading Room was sold in 1963 and this probably helped with the cost. Attendance continued to fall and a service of thanksgiving was held on the 25th July prior to the Chapel’s closure. Members now meet elsewhere but meet once a month in the village as a ‘house group’ of their new congregation.

** The completion of the village hall in 1957, built with the aid of Swedish Quaker students, has led to an increasing number of activities and pursuits being followed there and when the one remaining shop in the village closed in 1997 this was much lamented, particularly by the older people. However a Community Shop and Post Office has been built onto the Village Hall and was opened in recent weeks. It functions well with the aid of village volunteer shop assistants and a Post Master who is a retired Prison Governor.

HUNDON NOW

Hundon now retains its Anglo Saxon type of habitation with smaller groupings of houses at Brockley Green, Babel Green, Mount Pleasant and Steeplechase with a larger number near the church in North Street . The varied range of houses from the old (there are now 28 houses and the church dating from the 14thC listed as being of architec­tural or historical value) to the very new are occu­pied by a very diverse community of people with a great range of occupations, talents and interests.

Therein lies the greatest change that has occurred in the parish. From being self-contained with most people working within, it is now very outward looking with most people working away from it. Changes are yet taking place as more and more are working from home through the bene­fits of modern technology.  It may be common place to make these remarks but they are true of this and many other villages at this time.

We live in comparatively peaceful times and no new names have appeared on the war memorial for a long while. Hundon is a very pleasant place in which to live and long may it remain so.

This extract from the Hundon Millennium book is in memory of the author the late Mr Leonard Caton. This article is reprinted with the kind permission of Mrs Irene Caton.

** "The village hall may well have been completed in 1957, but it was in 1956 that a group of young volunteers under the auspices of the Friends Work Camps Committee in London (Society of Friends = Quakers) gathered in Hundon to advance the work.  Of these, only a handful were Quakers and, although several were students, many of the participants were already young graduates, and among the eight nations represented, only three girls came from Sweden.
 
How do I know this?  Because I was the on-site leader of the work camp."

This note was added by Anthony Bristow who now lives in Sweden because he married one of the Swedish girls. Added February 2013

Those interested in the Royal Corps of Signals establishment at Bachelors Hall at Hundon during the second world war may be interested in the following website http://www.auxunit.org.uk/ausignals.htm This link was kindly suggested by Peter Rowlinson

A Teenage Boy's memories in Brockley Green of WW2 http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/08/a9900008.shtml
This link was also kindly suggested by Peter Rowlinson
 


The following history of Hundon Farms is an extract from articles in the Hundon Herald -  April and May 2012 editions

ARTICLE RESEARCHED BY LOCAL HUNDON HISTORIAN, JOSEPHINE HOWARD.

I have been in possession of Hundon Tythe map 1848. And that got me thinking how much the ownership of the farms and land has changed. The parish of Hundon consists of approx 4500 acres so there's plenty to talk about!

I can't go back to 1848, that would be a small book, so I will start fifty years ago. Great Lodge is in the north of our Parish and was farmed by Arthur Bass, he was one of the few farmers who grew potatoes. I can remember when school finished in the afternoon walking all the way to Great Lodge so we could get a ride back on the tractor and trailer with the women potato pickers. When Mr. Bass retired it was bought by Justin Brooke of Brooke Bond Tea and is now part of Clopton Hall Estate. I believe Mr. Bass was one of the founding fathers of Hundon Village Hall.  

On the other side of Stradishall Rd, nearly opposite at the end of the other drive, is Eastleigh Lodge (Appleacre Farm) this was owned by Justin Brooke and all the fields on that side were apple orchards. Apple Acre is now part of Clopton Hall Estate.

The next farm is one probably very few know about. Culverton Farm lies in a valley out of sight and is only accessible by private lane off Folley Rd. It was part of Mary Lands Estates which included Hundon Thicks. Culverton Farm was the most isolated in the whole parish which was unoccupied from the early 50's until it was destroyed by fire In the late 70's. The house and buildings were demolished, nothing survived. It and Thicks were owned by the Watkinson brothers who had connections with Marks and Spencer. They sold to a German farming family in the early eighties and in turn sold to the present owner. I have pleasant memories of Culverton being so isolated and unoccupied it was an ideal place to go poaching. Moving clockwise around our parish we come to Wash Farm on Clare Road owned by Arthur Dennis of Chilton Hall. The farm house was occupied by one of Mr Dennis' workers. After Mr Dennis' death Wash Farm had one or two tenants or owners and then stood derelict. During this time it was seriously damaged by fire in the late eighties. However the prompt actions of Clare and Wickhambrook fire brigades saved the main part of the house and the farm buildings were untouched. The farm house and buildings were bought and totally renovated in the early nineties by the present owner and now serve as an equestrian centre, the land is farmed by Claydon Farms.

At the top of Wrights Hill is Brick Wall Farm. The original farm house fell into ruin during the farming depression of the 20s and 30s. Just around the corner on the road leadin\j, to Brockley Green is Parsonage Farm dating from the 16 century and for many years owned by Jesus College Cambridge. It was one of the three oldest farmhouses in the Parish. The house was sold and is now called Hundon Grange.

Hill View Farm is a small holding in Sims Lane and was once a pig farm owned by Mr Staples. The old pig rearing units are now used as small industrial units. Further along Sims Lane is Sims farm. Our Parish boundary with Kedington runs right through the middle of the house, a fact not lost on the present owner who goes to bed in one Parish and eats his breakfast in another without leaving the house. They bought the farm in the fifties from Cyril Rowlinson who took over the Hundon Plough. The owner told me in the days of Farm tithes, half had to be paid to Hundon Church and half to Kedington Church. Poplar Farm Pippets Hill, originally named Jersey Fields was farmed by Peter Hansbridge, calf dealer. Land now farmed by a local landowner and the farmstead is now a riding school.

Manor Farm Brockley Green was owned by Mr Woolard. It was a small holding with very little land and Mr Woolard made a living from keeping chickens. He sold up and moved away during the 70s. The place was bought by its current owner.

Mortlock Farm Brockley Green was owned by Mr Nullal who also ran an agricultural contracting business. The farm consisted of about 100 acres but because of his contract work he was able to employ 6 workers. Mr Nullal became ill in the 80s and the land was sold to the present owner. The farm and buildings were sold separately where the wooden barn was converted into living accommodation and the farm house was sold again in the 90s to its present owner

Brockley Green Farm is a farm I know very well. The house is one of the oldest in the Parish, and I believe it has a minstrel gallery, this is the information I received when I helped out in the house as a youngster. In the early 50s the farm was owned by Mr Smith, he sold the farm to Mr Eliston in the late 50s. Mr Eliston was not really a farmer; he had been in the Royal Navy and hardly knew the difference between a Wipple tree and an Ash tree. But he was a real character and working for him was never dull. In the late 60s Mr Eliston decided to sell up and move away but his Estate does still own one small 2 acre field, perhaps a reminder of happy days, I certainly enjoyed my time there, The farmhouse and land were sold separately. The land IS now farmed by a family local to Kedington. The farmhouse is now called Brockley Hall. Mr Eliston sadly passed away about 18 months ago.

Highfields Farm at the top of High Fields hill was farmed by the Mizon Family. The farm was sold completely in the 90's to Mr Cornish from Horseheath who in turn sold the house and building to the present owner and the land to Claydon Farms.

* (See note below) Spring Farm, Chimney Street was owned and farmed by Mr Horsley of Hill Farm Barnardiston, prior to that it was owned by Harry Noughton and his son Aubry who was Parish Council Chairman. It was Aubry who had the foresight for the Council to buy a piece of land for recreational activities for the village, and the piece of land in North Street was purchased in the late 40's for football and cricket etc.

Spring Farm consists of 120 acres. The house was sold separately and the farm buildings were converted into dwellings in the 80's. The land is now farmed by two separate farmers.

Fox Farm Barnardiston Road, owned and farmed by the Mizon family for well over 50 years up to December 2006, 12 was originally a Public House, The Fox. The new owner has totally transformed the area into one of the most desirable parts of the Parish.

Scotch Green Farm, Scotch Green owned and farmed by the Clark family until the 60's when the entire farm, apart from one small field was bought by the present owner.

Hammonds Farm, Scotch Green owned by the Hutchinson brothers who sold the farm in the late 50's to Mr Eliston snr. Mr Eliston snr had come into farming after being a banker. He later sold the farmhouse buildings and land separately in the late 60's. In the late 60's the land was sold to Justin Brook and then to Clopton Hall Estates who farms it now. Hammonds Farm House and some building were bought by the present owners. The large wooden barn was converted into two dwellings by a builder who purchased it separately. Whilst filming one series of Lovejoy lan Mc Shane rented out one of the dwellings in the barn.

Brockstead Lodge, although it completely disappeared in the 30's to make way for the aerodrome, I am told was a fine building with a moat.

Buntings was a small poultry holding in Chimney St, owned by Eustace Norton. It is now a private dwelling.

Chimney Street Farm, Chimey St was a small farm. John Harding has farmed here since 1959 and his family since 1898. Some of the land belongs to The Rogeron Trust.

Sliverstones Farm consists of 52 acres farmed by Rowland Robinson. The farm was owned by The Rogeron Trust but sold by auction at Clare Bell in the early 60's for £5,250. The land is now owned by about 7 different people, one parcel in Mary Lane had a house built on it. One field in Clockhall Lane was planted into a wood. The bridleway in Chimney St goes around some of the land. Farm is now called Clare House. Silverstones Farm House is now known as Rogeron House.

Whitings Farm on the bottom of Whitings Hill, the cow shed is now Brooklyn, Valley Wash.

Babel Green Farm, Babel Green. The land was sold to make way for the Galley Road development in the 70's and the farmhouse sold separately to the present owner,

Bears Farm, Valley Wash consists of 150 acres, and was farmed by the Jolly family. It was sold in the early 50's to the Mizon Family. 20 Acres were sold to Mrs Richards and remaining land was farmed by the Mizon family. The house and 20 acres were sold to Major General Gregson. This is home to The Old Suffolk Stud where Derby winner 'Sir Percy' was born.

Mount Pleasant Farm owned by Mr Russell Howes, top of Pinhoe/Mare Hill. About 10 acres were sold for development in the 60's.

Street Farm, North St. Previously owned by Mr Seabrooke, the farm and buildings were sold separately. During the coronation celebrations in 1953, before the village hall was built the whole village celebrated the coronation dinner in the big barn here. The farm has had numerous owners in the last 50 years.

Farms Lost:
Graval Gate Farm, now sewer beds.

Vincents farm was New House Farm.

Opposite Brickwall Farm was Potters Farm.
Farms on the airfield have also now been lost to history.

* Reference above:
We received the following note regarding this part of the entry on the 20th October 2012:

Dear Webmaster,

I am the daughter of Aubrey Norton, grandaughter of Harry Norton and neice of Eustace Norton, so was pleased to see this article on the history of Hundon, but was rather sad to see that, although the fact that my father was Parish Council Chairman was mentioned, no-one had checked the spelling of his Christian and Surname, or that of the surname of his father, despite getting both names of his brother correct!!

Two further points:-

1) My father, Aubrey (not Aubry) beside ensuring the purchase of the football field, also donated one of his own fields (beside the church - the current cricket ground) to Hundon village, for the sole purpose of cricket, upon the death of, and in the name of his father, Harry Norton.

2) Harry Norton owned Buntings, Eustace rented it from him. Evenutally, Eustace took his family to live in Canada, where one of the children still survives, another child moved back to England, and still lives in Staffordshire.

"Spring Farm, Chimney Street was owned and farmed by Mr Horsley of Hill Farm Barnardiston, prior to that it was owned by Harry Noughton and his son Aubry who was Parish Council Chairman. It was Aubry who had the foresight for the Council to buy a piece of land for recreational activities for the village, and the piece of land in North Street was purchased in the late 40's for football and cricket etc."

"Buntings was a small poultry holding in Chimney St, owned by Eustace Norton. It is now a private dwelling."

Kind regards,

Muriel Driver (nee Norton)

HUNDON FARMS

Since last month's article in the Hundon Herald about the changing farms by Josephine Howard, some senior Hundoners have been in touch and told me about some other farms in Hundon that were missed out and here they are...

HUNDON HALL FARM Hundon Hall, the bungalow and four houses at the junction of Folly Road and over a hundred acres owned by Mr Alec Gibson were sold to Justin Brooke when Mr Gibson retired, then on to Clopton Estates who sold off the properties, farm and land. The farm buildinqs have just recently been converted to dwellings.

CLOCK HALL FARM Clock Hall Lane. farmed by Arthur Dennis of Chilton Hall. Sold to Poslingford Farms and then to the Smith Brothers of Kedington who farm the land. The farmhouse and building were sold separately and converted to dwellings.

VINCENTS FARM Owned by Arthur Dennis, the farm was inherited by his nephew who sold the house and buildings which were converted. The land is farmed by Claydon Farms.

PINHOE HALL FARM Which is situated at the top of Pinhoe Hill or Mare's Hill depending .. Pinhoe Hall has a moat, was owned by Arthur Dennis of Chilton Hall. sold to Poslingford Farms and then to the Smith Brothers of Kedington who are the current owners. The Hall and buildings were sold separately, buildings not converted. During the war the house was hit by a V1 Doodle Bug and badly damaged, no one was hurt.

THE LIMES The Limes at North Street was owned by Mr Coulson, a chicken farmer. Bought by Mr Sealy in the 70's who ran an agricultural contracting business from the property for a short time. The Limes has had various owners since then. No longer operates as a farm.

Many thanks to the '01' Hundon boys and girls for giving me this information.  

Geoff Spooner
 


Memories of Hundon 1941 - 1943

MEMORIES OF HUNDON.

I lived at Brockley Green for approximately two and a half years from 1941 to 1943.

When I came I was a boy of 15 for whom life had gone a bit pear shaped as they say. I had lost not only both my parents but also my direction and it is a period of my life I do not enjoy recalling. When I left the area I was 171/2 and grown up enough to join the Royal Navy as a boy-seaman at H.M. Ganges at Ipswich. That was October 1943.1 remember these short years in the area with a deep and almost unusual affection and whenever I can I will always make an effort to visit Hundon and in particular Brockley Green and wallow in nostalgia. Quite apart from what was happening to me they were momentous years anyway. I lived with my sister and her husband at Mill House next to the Plough. My brother-in-law was the Sports Officer at RAF. Stradishall and I was frequently able to go with him to the base and see all that was going on and to meet some of the R.A.F. personnel including Group Captain (as he was then, later to become Air Marshall) Dermot Boyle

The history of R.A.F. Stradishall has been so excellently recorded in the book by Jock Whitehouse and Spencer Adams that I will say no more about it other than that the war and what was going on at Stradishall was a constant background to the area in those years. The sound of aircraft engines being tested went on all day and the sight of aircraft flying on 'circuit and bumps' went on constantly.

By day we would see the B.17s from the nearby U.S. airbase at Ridgewell forming up into their 'boxes' for some mission and then later in the day they would be returning and peeling off in sections, some with obvious damage and a red light under the fuselage indicating that they had casualties on board. In the evening it would be British aircraft filling the sky, all at various heights and all flying east. The air was just alive with the sound of hundreds of engines. It was really a fantastic sight and one that cannot be forgotten.

I'm afraid that there were also crashes. I think within just a mile radius of Brockley Green there were three or four, one of which I will refer to later on as it was literally on the top of us but had an interesting sequel for me.

Game Control!

Like many boys I had an interest in guns and shooting. Our nearest farmer was Jack Gagen and his brother Frank. Jack turned out to be a dear kind man, and in spite of my many faults seemed to like me and would lend me his 12 bore shotgun and allow me to shoot pigeons on his land. In fact he started me off with a little 4/10 shotgun which I think he had bought for his own son Val. However, I soon got promoted to the 12 bore.

How few farmers today would allow a young lad on his land, let alone lend him his gun. I have such wonderful memories of roaming the fields and woods around Brockley Green. During the war years pigeons were very much considered a farming pest and in fact local agricultural organisations provided free cartridges to farmers and landowners in order to keep them down. Jo Curtis, the butcher in Haverhill, paid 21- for a pigeon in those days and I think a rabbit was 3/-. People were very glad to get a couple of pigeons or a rabbit then to eke out their food rations. As I had left school at 15 (being considered rather a waste of time on someone like me) I was able to earn quite good money shooting pigeons and rabbits.

Jo Curtis, the butcher also liked to come shooting. He was rather a fat man (like many butchers) and when we went out together my task was to get him into a suitable place on the edge of a field where the barley had just been sown and to build a hide round him with branches and leaves so that the pigeons would not see

him. However, almost invariably when I had just completed the structure Jo would say to me "Sorry boy but I must have a pee" and he would break down all my hard work getting out.

I developed a love for nature and the Suffolk countryside during those wonderful years that I have never lost. Although I did shoot birds and rabbits I would often be content to just watch what was going on from my hide or tree when one would see foxes stalking, hares boxing and rabbits playing. I was often up before dawn and feel that I became part of nature, perhaps like a fox myself. Always there was a background of skylarks and the sounds of aircraft in the distance.

First jobs

My sister and her husband decided, I think, that it was time I got a job. I was becoming a wild thing and needed discipline and to understand that one had to work to live. My brother-in-law got me a job at Sainsbury's depot at the Haverhill/ Little Wratting crossroads. My job was to be assistant to the egg collecting van driver. There were in fact two vans which set out each day visiting farms in the area collecting their eggs. I was assigned to a short, but tough, wiry man, Jack Farrant by name. Jack had been through the first war and had been hardened, understandably, by his experiences in the trenches. As he told me himself he now feared nothing. He also did not suffer fools lightly and quickly told me that I was as much use as a wet week. Just his luck to get a young prat like me as his assistant. The funny thing is that I respected Jack and wanted so much to please him. I would listen open mouthed to his stories of the First World War on the occasions when he would talk to me.

My job was to pull out the large 36 dozen packing cases from the van as soon as we stopped at a farmhouse. Jack would meet the farmer's wife (it usually was) and start negotiations regarding price and quality etc. I would then have to collect the eggs and have them counted and correctly packed into the trays in the crate. No matter how fast I did this it was never quick enough for Jack, and I would have to endure his expletives when he returned. "Corr blast it, you're as thick as an oak tree you are. Where the hell did they get you from?" etc. He was Mr. ' No No' to me.

There were occasions however when one of the ladies would invite Jack into the farmhouse for a cup of tea or whatever!? Jack could remain in the house for quite a time and this would have allowed me to have completed my tasks and then I would be sitting in the van waiting for him. He would eventually just come out, slam the van door and we would be off to the next call. No "Well done" etc. On one or two occasions I recall the lady of the house saying to Jack "Would the boy like a cup of tea?" Jack would just say "No he don't need tea, he's got a job to do". The object of the day, it seemed, was to be the first van back to Little Wratting. I'm not quite sure why this was so important but we were almost always beaten to it by the other driver and his boy who would look at me in his smug way and ask we had had a puncture or something? Of course I would get another verbal bashing from Jack - "My ferret could do the job better" etc. The fact that I had been waiting in the van whilst he was with the lady in the farmhouse never got a mention.

Jack was at heart a good and kind man. Shortly before I joined the Navy I understand he told my brother-in-law that I was not a bad lad, he could have had worse! He did also wish me well when I went.

Introduction to The Great Man

One day on my way to the depot the road was blocked by a large flock of sheep. I was concerned that I should not be late - Jack would not have been pleased - so I slowly rode my bicycle through the sheep. At the end of the road there was a large black car. I believe it was an American Buick. As I approached a smartly dressed chauffeur stepped out and spoke to me. "There is a gentleman in the car who wishes to speak to you". I went to the car, a window slowly came down, and a man in a dark suit leant forward and said, "Do you know who I am?" "No", I said in my usual cheeky way. "Well" he said, "I am Mr. J. Sainsbury and don't you ride your bicycle through my sheep again". So saying the window went up and the chauffeur said "Now buzz off. So I can now say I was introduced to the great Mr. J. Sainsbury himself.

First love

The Land Army Girls came to Brockley Green. Sex reared its ugly head along with pimples and other things. When they started working in a field opposite Mill House I got out an old pair of binoculars and scanned the field, making my secret selection. However my attentions were noticed and when I found some obscure reason to pass by they said "Why don't you put your binoculars away and come and give us a hand". I did see some smirking and noticed some ribald laughter but decided that this indeed might be the way to meet the one I had selected.

Dear God! have you ever tried pulling and knocking sugar beet? It's all done by machinery now, but in those days these girls did it by hand. Freezing cold, you had to pull them out of the ground, knock them together and try to get rid of the soil and then chuck them into the cart. I don't know how they did it, backs bent over at the worst angle. Land Army Girls never got a medal at the end of the war and I can vouch that this is a national disgrace.(Now rectified. Ed) Anyway, in no time I was crippled and the passion was right out of me. If Joanna Lumley had been there at that time and said "Let's go into the woods" I would have had to refuse!

I was invited to a Hallowe'en party at their hostel which I think was in Clare. I recall scrubbing myself red and trying to cover up my spots with calomine cream and making efforts to stick my hair down with Brylcreem (I had lots of hair in those days, it's all gone now) and then cycling to meet my love. It was in fact a very nice party with apple dunking and other games. However someone had invited real men from R.A.F. Stradishall and the object of my desire was quickly swept away by some sod in R.A.F. uniform. I recall cycling home on a beautiful starry night deciding that I would have to get myself a uniform and that women are very fickle!

Passion thwarted

Whilst I was happy at Mill House, cycling the lanes and roads to Hundon, Clare, Kedington and Haverhill and having my half pint of brown ale in The Plough I did not meet many girls, at least none that wanted to meet me. By the time I was 17 I was clearly 'in must' and my brother-in-law took pity on me and took me up to Stradishall where there were a lot of young W.A.A.F.s. The R.A.F. had several concert parties and the one at Stradishall was called 'The Astia Follies'. The singer of the band was a very fruity young lass and I recall she sang a song' In my sweet little Alice blue gown'. That was it! Cupid fired a telegraph pole into me. Somehow it was arranged that I could go with her to Bury St. Edmunds on the R.A.F bus when next she had leave.

The day came. More scrubbing, gumming down the hair and calamine on the spots. I borrowed my brother-in-law's sports jacket, much too big but I thought it made me look older and my shoulders bigger. I then had to cycle to Stradishall to meet the bus. I arrived just in time to see it leaving and not going much faster than I could cycle -1 thought. I set off in desperate pursuit. I'm not certain but I believe it is a good 15 miles from Stradishall to Bury St. Edmunds. There were times when I even caught glimpses of the bus ahead of me. Downhill I reached speeds that should have had me arrested for dangerous driving (or cycling without due care and attention).

I was quite a fit lad but by the time I arrived in the square at Bury I

was a physical wreck. My clothes were soaked in perspiration, my trousers had bicycle chain oil on them, Brylcreem was running down my red face and, of course, my spots were now standing out like volcanoes about to erupt! I was so exhausted that I was trembling and even when I got off my bicycle my legs kept cycling.

Desperate for a drink I went into a little cafe and asked for a lemonade. My hand was shaking as I took it and sweat was dripping everywhere. I could see that the lady behind the counter was watching me closely with her beady eyes. She must have slipped behind the counter to phone the Police for they were waiting for me when I came out. I had calmed down a few degrees by this time and after giving them my name, address and identity card details, plus an explanation, they allowed me to go. They said they understood about boys chasing after girls but this was ridiculous! I do not remember how I got home, by bike I suppose.

I did shuffle around the town looking for this girl but fortunately did not find her. God knows what she would have thought had I found her in that state. In fact I learned subsequently that she was not even on the bus but had gone to Haverhill with some R.A.F. chaps instead!

It was the best cure for lust anyway and I decided that women were not worth the effort ~ for a few days anyway.

22nd September. 1943

It was a pleasant late summer evening at about 7 p.m. I was in the kitchen of Mill House talking to my sister and a friend. We suddenly felt the ground shake and a red glow, like a very vivid sunset, shone through into the kitchen. We went outside and instantly were shocked at what confronted us.

The sky was full of smoke and falling pieces of aircraft, some dropping like stones, some twisting and turning slowly down. Some of it was burning. On the ground there were huge flames from several sites of wreckage. Also our neighbour's (Mr. Deeks) house on that side was on fire. People started appearing from all over the place and we began running to help. However, for a few minutes we were held back due to the falling debris. As soon as it was possible we ran to help Mr. and Mrs. Deeks in removing furniture and valuables from their house. Ammunition was exploding all around and after one very large explosion a -warning was given that the aircraft, a Stirling bomber, still had a live bomb load and we should take covet!. I do not think that many took much notice and indeed several people including, I recall, Jack Gagen walked about amidst the burning wreckage looking to see where the bodies were.

The American Fire Brigade from Ridgewell arrived surprisingly quickly, then an ambulance and subsequently the Haverhill Fire Brigade. The Deeks' fire was put out first and then foam was used on the main aircraft fires. A search had begun and gradually the crew were located, all dead of course except for one man who unbelievably was found still alive. It was hard to believe that anyone could have survived such an event The aircraft had blown up several thousand feet above Brockley Green and, as related, fell in pieces over a wide area. I believe that fragments are still found to this day .

I did see this poor chap carried to the ambulance and for several days my sister and her husband telephoned the hospital at Woodbridge where he had been taken to see how he was. I do not think anyone thought he could possibly survive. One body was not found until the next morning.

Mrs. Deeks was taken to our house to rest. I confess I now forget how they coped with the disaster that had badly damaged their house but I feel sure the local folks would have helped in every way that they could. They were good people. This recorded in the book about the history of R.A.F. Stradishall by Jock Whitehouse and Spencer Adams

Very soon after this momentous event I left to be a boy seaman in the Royal Navy at H.M.S. Ganges. Although I never forgot the incident I never did find out whether or not this crewman had survived. Death and tragedy were all around in those times and one wished to survive oneself.

However some fifty two years later in 1996 I was advised by my sister that a book had been written about Stradishall and of course I obtained a copy. In it this incident is recorded along with so much more and for the first time I learned that the man (he was the mid-upper gunner) had indeed survived and had been visited in Australia by Jock and his wife. In due course I met Jock and his wife Pat who sadly has now died. I got the address of George Duffy, the survivor, and I write to him a couple of times each year. George fortunately remembers nothing of the dreadful day and surprisingly he made an almost full recovery - surely as near a living miracle as one could wish. George Duffy is a fine man and I would love to meet him one day, but who knows?

The Plough

The Plough Inn in the days when we lived next door was very different to the very smart place it is today. As I recall there were just two rooms, a lounge and the snug which we all used. It was run by . Jimmel' Deeks and his wife Peggy. It was always a very friendly and welcoming place. A nice fire in winter and the place to be if you wanted to keep up with local news.

As soon as I was old enough to be working (16) I was allowed to buy a drink. If I remember correctly I used to have half a pint of brown ale which I think was 6d (2Vzp), I don't remember any drunkenness or rowdiness at The Plough. People got happy, yes, but that was about it In any case few young people earned enough money to drink too much.

The names I remember are Cuthbert and Walter who were 'ole boys' and there would be Jack Gagen and the man who later owned it, Cyril Rowlinson and many others whose names I have forgotten. People would be playing darts, cribbage or dominoes and I don't think the local Police bothered too much about time! It was a very happy place and I never recall any trouble.

The original parlour and lounge still exist although now it is all one and the old entrance door is the same but of course it is now so much larger than the original and very posh too!

I remember the tolerance and kindness of the people around. I know that I was rather an undisciplined lad and needed to have corners knocked off as they say, but people tolerated me. Cyril Rowlinson also allowed me on his land where he had a very nice wood at the rear of his house, full of cooing pigeons I recall. I eventually blotted my copybook by shooting the ferret when out on a Boxing Day shoot. Everyone just packed up and went home. I was never asked to join them again. I was duly ashamed.

Lasting memories

I shall always have a special place in my heart for the area around Hundon. It was a time of worry and anxiety for many people, and indeed my own family living at Mill House did have a very sad tragedy whilst we lived there which I can never forget. There in Hundon churchyard, is a little grave with the name Virginia Montagu- Woods on it and a date in May 1942. I do not think that my sister has ever recovered from this event but it is very personal and best kept to the family.

I loved Mill House and especially the orchard which extended some way down the Kedington Road. There are houses there now where once we used to pick pears and apples. The Deeks' house is still there with a nice new roof. I wonder if they still find pieces of Stirling bomber in the ground?

I also remember dear Jack Gagen and his family who were so kind and tolerant of me. His daughter Audrey, who I know still lives in Hundon, with her friend Doreen used to tease the life out of me - ringing one door bell and when I went to answer it ringing the other. Little imps they were. Did I ever thank Jack and his family properly? It's too late now. I do recall his wonderful Golden Wedding Anniversary held at Kedington. He gave such a wonderful speech about how lucky he had been to marry May and what a happy life it had been. This from a man who had his fair share of misfortune. It brought tears to some of our eyes I can tell you.

I also became friends with a young navigating officer from Stradishall - Pilot Officer Peter Code. I think he was about 19 whilst I was 17. We went shooting and had a few drinks at The Plough together. I think he was just happy to get away from Stradishall for a few hours. He took me over one of the Stirlings at Stradishall. We sat in the cockpit and he admitted that at times he was petrified and tried not to think about the next "op". Then Peter was posted and I joined the Navy.

In 1980 or thereabouts I happened to be near SI. Clement Danes in the Strand. This is the R.A.F. Church in London. All round the walls there are Books of Remembrance containing the names of all the R.A.F. personnel who died during the last war set out in alphabetical order. I went in and looked through several of the books to find people that I had known. I looked under 'C and there was Flying Officer P. Code -1 think it was the only 'Code' there. Like so many more Peter had paid the ultimate price.

A sad note to end on but memories are often sad. So many things I wish I had done and others that I wish I had not done. Like my school reports -I must try harder.

John Davis

The East Pavilion. Belford. Northumberland

(Thanks to David Rowlinson for sending this article for inclusion. It was written by John Davis some years ago).

This article is taken from the July 2013 edition of the Hundon Herald

   

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