Raglan in living memory, Sarah Williams, 1994

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HORTIA DURANT MEMORIAL PRIZE ESSAY COMPETITION 1994

RAGLAN IN LIVING MEMORY

BY - SARAH WILLIAMS

Raglan has changed in many ways in the past years. Some buildings are still here from 60 or 70 years ago. The village wasn't as big as it is now, but still very busy, as Raglan was used as a main road as the bypass was not built. Here is some of Raglan's features many years ago ….............

The population in Raglan NOW is around 2000. But back in the 1930's-1950's it was around 800. 50 or 60 of the inhabitants were children learning in the old school. Children had to walk to school in those days because there was no school bus service. Some children had to walk 4 or 5 miles to get to school, in all weather, and if you didn't get to school because of the weather, the next day there would be trouble. Children would write on slates when they first started school but then when they got older they would use a pen and ink well. We have been told that the nibs of the pens were scratchy, and it was very hard to write neatly with, but if you didn't you would get the cane from Mr. Charles Saunders who was headmaster at the time. He believed in a saying that went like this “Spare the rod and spoil the child”.

Children used to start school at 9.00 am and finish at 3.30 pm., the same time as we do now.They had to take sandwiches for lunch because there were no school dinners, but local children went home for lunch. There was a pump in the old school yard, for all the children to have a drink.

You would leave school at 14 and get a job as a farmer if you were a boy, but if you were a girl you would go into service. There wasn't much transport in those days. No buses, not many people in Raglan had a car, just bicycles, the horse and trap and of course the train station, until about 20 years later when buses came into service. There was the station, that used to bring in most of the farmers day old chicks, animals, coal and a lot more, but unfortunately it closed in 1952-53.

The Ship used to be called the Sheep, because many years ago they sold sheep on the cobbles. But as time went on it lost it's name. There were 4 pubs 60 years ago which were The Crown, The Ship, The Beaufort and The Kings Head next to the Crown. The Kings head was demolished in 1875 and then turned into the butchers. The Beaufort Arms had a special visitor in June 1935, Mr. Neville Chamberlain who was to be Prime Minister of Britain.

There was also quite a few shops. There was a Drapers owned by Mr. Cleeves, a boot shop owned by Mr. Spenser, 2 bakers, a sweet shop owned by a Mrs. Hook in Castle Street, a grocers shop owned by the Silverthornes, a post office in Castle Street owned by a Misses Anne and Fay Jones, 2 butchers and a Lemonade factory, and last but not least Morton House sold delicious dairy ice cream and sweets, which everyone loved. There were quite a few more shops as well.

The Church is at the top of the hill by the crossroads and was used a very lot in the olden days. The Vicar at the time was Mr. Matthew Perkins an old country man and in 1949 Mr. Ernie Morgan was the verger. There were also 12 choir boys, and they would get a halfpenny per service and an extra gift of money if they presented the service well.

At Christmas time people used to play lots of games such as ludo, charades, consequences and lots more, but because there wasn't much money they didn't get many presents. Easter was much the same as now. They painted eggs and put them on the table at breakfast.

In Raglan Village there was a Sergeant and Constable who lived in the village and in the day they worked at the Old Court Restaurant, where the old police station is. Jeffreys hall used to be a community centre where people used to meet up. They had performances, whist drives, they did amateur dramatics, and most important thing they did was, in the war a van used to drive up in front of Jeffreys hall and through two windows project a film on to the stage. People used to love going to see a film every friday night and paying a sixpence.

There was a shop called the corner shop on the corner of the crossroads. It was a grocers,but during the wars, they turned it into a cafe for all the American soldiers passing through, it was owned by the Jones family. The war affected Raglan a lot with the American convoys passing through and throwing gum to all the children on the side of the road. The veterinarian calls was stationed in the village. The men slept in Jeffreys hall and the horses stayed at the Crown and Beaufort. They kept the army huts on Chepstow Rd. There were bombs being dropped, a bomb was dropped on College cottages where Nicholas Harry now lives. The womens land army also came to Raglan to help on the farms, because all the men were at war.

People used to spend a lot of time at the Castle, and in winter children used to take their slates to the moat at the Castle and skate round and round the moat. Many people in Raglan didn't go on holidays but Raglan had a charabang outing to Cardiff City Hall in 1926 and apparently they thoroughly enjoyed it. Sometimes they had a trip to Barry Island.

Because the park and lots of other activities weren't built they had a Tennis, Hockey and Football team as well as guides, scouts and rangers, and they used to play cards, skipping, hoop and stick and lots more.

There are many old buildings in Raglan. Such as the Old School which was built in 1796 and also down the road from the Old School is Dean House which was built in 1844 which is 150 years old. They used to sell vegetables by the steps. There are 3 old dark cellars in the house, one in the hall, one where the stables used to be, which is where the garage is now and one in the kitchen. There was also a well which was dug up.Dean house had been owned by the one family, the Cook family. Until 15 years ago when Mr. O'Hair owned it, and now Mr. and Mrs. Didcock own it.

I wonder how many changes I will see in my life time. Its been really interesting finding out what it was like in Raglan many years ago. Raglan is part of my life, I hope it still will be in the future. By Sarah Williams


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