Raglan in living memory, Susie Pike, 1994

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HORATIA DURANT MEMORIAL PRIZE ESSAY COMPETITION 1994


RAGLAN IN LIVING MEMORY

BY - SUSIE PIKE


Introduction Raglan was a much smaller village in the early 1900's with a population of about 800. There used to be fields where the housing estates are now and there was no “dual carriageway”. The main street was quite busy but looked similar to today except that there were no big shops. There were three cottages where “Londis” is now and a cottage next to the paper shop.

Shops and Pubs There were four pubs (there are three now), these were 'The Beaufort Arms', 'The Ship' -which was once called 'The Sheep', The Crown and The Kings Head' which is now a butchers shop. Mr. Ossie Jones sold grocery at the corner shop in Castle Street and children used to buy sweets like “Bootlaces”. Aniseed Balls” and “Barley Sugar” from 'Aunt Mary' and 'Uncle Will' (my great,great, great Aunt and Uncle) who ran the paper shop. The old shop which is now 'Londis' used to be owned by the Silverthorne family (my grandfather and his brothers).

The Old School Children often used to walk miles across the fields to school which was held in 'The Old School' (built in 1739) and 'The Parish Room'. Classes were much smaller and the teachers were very strict. Lots of pupils got the cane even if they hadn't done much wrong because the headmaster believed 'Spare the rod and spoil the child'. Pupils sat at desks with inkwells and scratchy pens and younger children wrote on slates. There was no school uniform but the boys wore stiff collars and in winter time pupils used to wrap stockings around their boots to stop them getting worn out. There was a big pump in the play-ground and stoves with railings around them in the classrooms. There were no school dinners so children either brought their lunch or went home. They had a school sports like we do with running, jumping, egg and spoon and skipping races.

Life in the Home Housework was much harder then. There was no electricity and no main water supply. All houses had coal fires called 'ranges'. That was the only heating that people had. The ranges had one or sometimes two ovens on them. Upstairs bedrooms were usually very cold. Some houses had fire places but they were not often used so, to keep the beds warm hot bricks or warming pans were put inside them. Many houses had wells and water tanks in the garden but some people had to carry water from one of the four taps in the village. Washing day used to last nearly all day. In the village one old lady called Mrs. Cooper used to do peoples washing and her cottage was always hot and steamy. Sometimes she used to deliver to people's houses in a big pram. When Mrs. Cooper got older her daughter Mrs. Tucker took over the washing for her. Mrs. Cooper always wore thick black stockings, black boots, a white apron and a black hat.

Life on the Farm Many people lived on farms where life was also harder than it is now, horses were used to plough the fields and cows were milked by hand and the milk was taken around the village in big pails. Harvest was a very busy time and women used to take food out to the workers in the field. Cider was made on the farm. A lot of people kept pigs to kill and when a pig was killed every part was used, the trotters were boiled and eaten and sometimes the bladder was blown up to make a football. There were no fridges and meat was kept on cold slabs in big pantries and salted to keep it fresh. Hens ran around outside the farmyard and rabbits were caught and hung up until they were crawling with maggots before they were eaten.

War Time Raglan was not affected much by the first world war but the second world war had more effect on peoples lives. Heavy curtains were hung to windows for the blackout so that no light could be seen by over flying planes. Many houses had evacuees from the cities and the children went to the village school. Many evacuees found life in the country very different to life in the town. One bomb fell onto Collage Cottage in Llandenny but fortunately no one was injured. Food was rationed during the war so people could only have a certain amount of different foods and other things. The Brooks bungalows were built to accommodate the Womens Land Army.

Letter written to the Monmouthshire Beacon by Mr. F.N. Silverthorne (my great grandfather) Ye Olde Shoppe, High Street, Raglan. To our customers:- BUTTER

During 1914 and 1917 the imports of butter to this country shrunk from 212,500 tons to 90,817 tons. This information will help you to understand why the Government is taking the long view in a similar situation, by rationing at the onset, rather than in the last stages of war as in 1917.

The art of butter making is very old, reference being made to it in the Book of Proverbs XXX 33, where it is stated, the churning of milk bringeth forth butter.

We draw our imported supplies chiefly from Denmark, New Zealand, Australia, Siberia,France, Sweden and Ireland and of course quite a large quantity is made at home. The best qualities are all very pleasing to the taste, but oddly enough the flavour of the butter to those who are constantly handling it, reveals its origin.

My personal palate is distinctly Irish, during the height of the season, and it is a pity Ireland does not make mores use of her pasture and the grass of which is undoubtedly second to none fortunately butter making.

By the courtesy of the Editor, I have been able to deal briefly with the articles of food which are likely to come under control. I sincerely hope that the distasteful necessity will be of short duration and that ere long, we may be enjoying once again the freedom which is an Englishman's birthright. Yours faithfully, F.N. SILVERTHORNE (Director)

Transport In the early 1900's many people rode on horseback or in a pony and trap.. There was a railway station in the village and some children travelled to school in Monmouth on the train. The mail came by train and was collected by the postman who took it to the post office in Castle Street to be sorted, later there was an excellent bus service to nearby towns and lots of people rode bicycles.

Entertainment There was quite a lot going on in Raglan, there were tennis courts at Raglan Castle and hockey, cricket and football teams (the football players wore sorts below their knees). Lots of concert and Sunday school parties took place in the Jeffries Hall (now part of the butchers shop) and films were also shown from a van through two holes in the wall of the hall. Raglan had a lively brass band and an acting company called “The Castle Players”. Pageants were held at the castle, and Jubilee celebrations.

In the winter when the Castle's moat was frozen, skating parties were held. Children played simple games like, skipping, hopscotch and stick and hoop. Point to point races were held once a year and were very popular. Cattle auctions took place twice a year, one was held in fields on the station road and the other in the auction field on the Usk Road.

The Church More people attended Church or Chapel and choir boys were paid 1d. a week. Before electricity came to Raglan the church as lit by oil lamps and the organ was blown by hand. The Rev. Perkins Christened Mr. Ernie Morgan, Raglan's oldest resident. Other Vicars were: Rev. Plant, Rev. Sproule, Rev. Wright, Rev. Duck, Rev. Price, Rev. Blake, Rev. Gower, Rev. Guest

Some of the organists were: Mr. Charles Saunders, Mr. Hensby, both headmasters of Raglan School, Mr. Roy Silverthorne (my grandfather) and Mr. Jack Ponton.

Law and Order There was not so much crime in those days and life was safer for children. Raglan Police Station and Magistrates court were in the High Street next to Extons' and the Police Station had a cell where offenders could be locked up for the night. Two well known policemen were Sgt. Canes and P.C. Needs.

Village Characters Some well known village characters were Mr. C. Jones who lit the village lamps, Mrs. Single who rode into Raglan from Bryngwyn manor in her pony and trap, Mrs. Drinkwater who had one big tooth and wore a sweeping black skirt, Mr. Campbell who dressed in black and white checked trousers and Mrs. Hicks. (Overleaf picture of Mrs Hicks).


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