Raglan in living memory, Kate Grey, 1994
Horatia Durant Essay Competition, 1994
Raglan in Living Memory
by, Kate Grey
I have always lived near Raglan. I was born in Abergavenny eleven years ago. I lived near Dingestow for four years and since then have lived in Llandenny, a small village about 3 miles outside Raglan. I went to playschool in Raglan, I go to the local doctor in Raglan and now, of course, I go to Raglan Junior School.
There have been lots of changes in Raglan this century. Many more houses have been built recently and new estates such as Barton Bridge. The population of Raglan during this century has changed a lot. In the 1930's - 1950 the population was around 800 and today it is around 2,000.
Children living in Raglan at the beginning of this century would find it difficult to understand our way of life. Homes, schools,hobbies and travel would all be different
Education - schools
Schools are certainly different today. Raglan Junior School is 17 years old and looks very modern and clean, with a playground and grass play area. Because children do not sit at their desks all day, they have more space in the class to move around in and a hall for P.E. and wet games.
The old school was built in 1739 and had children from 5 years to 14 years. The children did not move about but sat at their desks all day. There were 50-60 children in the old school; they were separated in the hall by a glass shield into infants and juniors. there were two other rooms in the school, a laundry and a library.
They used to write on bits of slate with scratchy pens. You had to respect the teachers and headmaster (Mr. Saunders) if you saw them out of school and you didn't pay them a respectful remark they would tell you off in the school the next day.
You got the cane a lot because the teachers were very strict, they had a saying, "spare the rod and spoil the child," and the headmaster believed that.
Once there was a fire in the old school and everyone got really excited and started pushing each other out the door.
When you left school at the age of fourteen most of the boys would work on farms, some of the girls would work on farms but most girls went into service.
Here is a picture of Raglan High Street earlier on this century. It is taken from the crossroads
Shops and the High Street
Most of the shops in Raglan are now just in the High street. But many local people drive to Supermarkets in Newport and Cwmbran to do a weekly shop. Years ago people all shopped locally and as a result there were many more shops all making a good income.
There was a corner shop which sold groceries. It was made a cafe around the war, then was a fish and chip shop owned by Lumley's and now it is a house. This is the house on the end of Castle St. across the road from the church. Next to the corner shop there was a shop that sold sweets and home-made ice-cream which is where the Quick's now live. There was a drapery and there used to be a Lemonade factory. The old Post Office is near the other end of Castle St. and there is a little sign in the window saying The Old Post office There was a bakers in Primrose Green, a butchers next to the Ship owned by Mr. Hagget. There was a blacksmith further down the High Street.
The Beaufort Arms was well known when Nevil Chamberlain visited it two years before he became prime minister. The papershop is the same. the Beaufort arms is the same, the Ship is the same, The Crown is the same, Lower Londis is the same but where Londis is now there used to be three cottages
Inhabitants of Raglan
Mr Ernie Morgan is the oldest inhabitant who has lived in Raglan all his life. He is in his early 90's. He is a local character who is seen riding his bidydle around the village.
Although Mr. Alan Musto lives in Llandenny he has lived in the area all his life and knows lots of stories about Raglan. He used to cut hedges in Raglan and do other gardening jobs for people. Coffee Jones was the village postman and gas lamp lighter but lost his job when electricity came to Raglan in 1952.
Mrs M. Silverthorne, Susie Pike's grandmother, has lived in Raglan all her life and has many relatives living locally. She can remember lots about world war II about the evacuees she looked after.
World War II. Interview with Mrs. Silverthorne
In the second world war many evacuees came to the rural area of Raglan. Land girls who didn't want to work in the factories came to Raglan to work on farms. They stayed at the Enterprise Park. Children came on trains from London, Birmingham and Eastham to the quiet village of Raglan. All that the children would bring was a change of clothes, a sewing kit or something to keep them occupied and, of course, a gas mark. Everyone had gas masks because they thought the German's would have poisonous gas. The gas mask stopped you breathing gas in.
Here is an interview with Mrs. M. Silverthorne about the war.
Interviewer: Mrs. Silverthorne, how long have you lived in Raglan? Mrs. Silverthorne: Eighty years
Interviewer: During this time have you stayed in the village or moved around to other villages? Mrs. Silverthorne: I have always lived in the village
Interviewer: During the war about how many evacuees did you have staying with you? Mrs. Silverthorne: Well first of all I had three young sisters and then I had three young brothers
Interviewer: How long did you have the evacuees for? Mrs. Silverthorne: About three months
Interviewer: Did some of the children come from large families? Mrs. Silverthorne: Yes, I know some friends of mine who had evacuees, and when they put them to bed at night, they later went to see if they had settled down and they couldn't find them and eventually they found them sleeping under the bed. The bed had been used for another part of the family to sleep in.
Interviewer: Did the children get very homesick and did they often write to their parents? Mrs. Silverthorne: No, they didn't write letters. They got homesick but they comforted each other.
Interviewer: How much luggage did they bring with them? Mrs. Silverthorne: A change of clothes and the boys boot polish and sewing materials
Interviewer: Did you enjoy having the evacuees around? Mrs. Silverthorne: Yes, we all got on very well. It was a nice Summer so we could go on picnics and walks.
Interviewer: Were the children dressed differently? Mrs. Silverthorne: They dressed very tidily. We bought the girls some new dresses to wear on Sunday and to to church in
Interviewer: How did the war affect your grocery business? Mrs. Silverthorne: Very much. Rationing was introduced and our customers had ration books. The rations were weighed up for them to collect, then we would often get consignments of different foods, such as chocolate powder, custard powder and various other things, then there was a long queue in the shop
Interviewer: Were there any changes in the latter part of the war in the Village? Mrs. Silverthorne: Yes, well when the heavy bombing started, there were whole families moving into the village. I had a mother with two daughters and a son staying with me, but only for a short while because they couldn't get used to the quiet countryside so they moved back to London. But some stayed and married and made their home in the district.
(Note: This interview was conducted by my brother Jack who was doing a history project a couple of weeks ago)
Church and Castle
Raglan Castle is a landmark which can be seen from miles around the area. It is hundreds of years old. There have been some alterations to the castle but none of them have been major. The castle has also been refurbished in the last century. Now, the castle was a place that was attacked a lot, so you may think it was a cold, damp and draughty place to live, but the tapestry hanging form the walls kept the draughts out and it was actually very comfortable.
Raglan Castle is of great historical interest and is visited daily throughout the year by schools,holiday makers and people interested in history.
St Cadoc's Church, Raglan is also very old. Here is a list of it's vicars from the beginning of the century; Rev Matthew Perkins, Rev. Plant, rev. David Sprall, Rev. Thomas (Duck), Rev Charles Duck, Rev William Price, Rev Arthur Blake, Rev Peter Gower, Rev. Simon Guest.
Rev. Arthur Blake is remembered for bringing the first cannon into Raglan. The following people are remembered for playing the organ in church: Mr Charles Saunders (the headmaster of the old school), Mr Fitzroy Silverthorne played until the electric organ came into Raglan, Mr Poyton plays the organ now and his wife sings in the choir. Over the last century there were lots of people in the choir. You got hapney and five shillings for singing in the choir and if you sang for over a long period of time you got 6 pence. Going to church was a thing that everyone in Raglan did. It was the only meeting place apart from the pub, and everyone enjoyed going. Everyone had their Sunday best which was worn all day. Mrs Hicks was the church caretaker from around the beginning of the Century to the middle of it and everyone said what a fine job she did.
For entertainment people couldn't watch television or play on computers so they read books and played marbles and such. There wasn't as much traffic in the Village as there is now so they could play games in the road. There were lots of clubs also. There was a Cricket team, Tennis, Soccer and a football team who wore long shorts or short trousers. There was a band and a drama group. Here is a picture of them acting.
Teenagers and adults went to the pictures at the Jeffery's Hall. There used to be a hole in the wall and the projector was in a van outside and the picture would go through the wall and show the movie inside. Children used to go to Usk Fete once a year which is still held now.
One year the celebrated King George's V Jubilee. Here is a picture of it. People had street parties and everyone was happy and excited.
Winter 1947 there was loads and loads of snow. Peoples housed got snowed in. the children skated on the moat around the castle.
For Christmas you would have an apple an orange and a string of beads
Conclusion - Raglan then and now
Traveling has changed a lot over the last century. Trains, buses, horse and trap and bicycles used to be used and very few people had cars. Now nearly everyone has a car. The first car in Raglan was owned by the Corner Ship grocery store. The railway line closed around 30 years ago and it made everyone in Raglan sad. A big change is that Raglan didn't used to have any contact with other villages but now nearly everyone who lives in raglan knows someone else from a neighbouring village. Today Raglan is near to the motorway network and many people who live in Raglan commute to places like Bristol and Cardiff.
During the first half of the century life was hard in many ways for the inhabitants of Raglan but they still managed to have enough time to enjoy themselves and make their own amusements
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