Clayhidon Friends

January 2018 

Fascinating stories and objects of interest

What better way to welcome the New Year than to gather together and share experiences and memories whilst imbibing of some Mulled Wine and superb sausage rolls and chocolate brownies provided by Sarah and Tina.

Sarah started the “Bring and Tell” Evening by showing us one of the tools of her trade in Midwifery. This was a Pinnard’s Foetal Stethoscope. First used as far back as 1650, but used for general heart monitoring and then to listen to the baby’s heartbeat. An unprepossessing trumpet like instrument, so simple, but so effective.

Angela told us of a young boy who used to pass with his seven siblings each day on his way to school. Angela and her husband gave them chocolates one year at Christmas and gathered things throughout the year. By the next Christmas there was an eighth child. Leading up to the next Christmas there were several knocks on the door by the eldest boy with various questions. Just before Christmas he presented her with two pompoms for her and her husband. Angela was so struck with how simple they were, but had been made with warmth of spirit. She was very impressed by how whole family were united, how well-mannered and, how well turned out they were.

Carol showed us two wooden dolls which had been given to her when she lived in Boston and had joined in with a Quilting Group. They thought that as she was English she would know what they were, but she was equally mystified. We all examined the armless, period dressed ladies and came up with various thoughts from lace making bobbins, Amish woodworking or simply just beautifully lathed, tactile ornaments.

Linda had recently been on a fantastic holiday to China and visited the Three Gorge Dam. The peasant locals living simple lives had all been forcibly rehoused in very high rise flats to make way for the Dam that had taken 10 years of 24 hour pouring of concrete. It has successfully provided energy for the area and paid for itself. She had some humorous anecdotes to relate as to how the Chinese did not understand our manners and frequently came out with not quite accurate statements.

Anne had brought a very small girl’s shoe which was discovered in her chimney twenty two years ago, hanging on a hook, with a piece of paper from previous owners explaining they had found it in the rafters. The house has been added onto throughout time, but the chimney was made with stone taken from Dunkeswell Abbey. Anne had researched the custom of putting either a shoe or item of clothing within the makings of buildings. It is thought that it was often a child’s shoe, the child being pure of spirit, to ward off the Devil. There is a Museum in Norfolk which has undertaken to record findings. Shoes are especially used as a lucky talisman and a sign of wealth. This is also why shoes are traditionally tied to the back of a wedding car.

Margaret told us of her strict Victorian Grandmother who had worked in large country estates and in her words ‘seen it all’, at the weekend Shooting Parties. The Grandmother was very strict with Margaret and used to tie a strip of wood to her back and head to encourage a straight back. Her Grandmother maintained that if you had to shop more than once a week, you were not a good Manager and to demonstrate how they did it in those days Margaret displayed a wooden board with essential items printed on it and a tiny flick peg by each item. When the time came to replenish an item the flick peg would be turned over to display the red side.

Another Grandmother story was shared by Lynda. She produced four crystal balls of equal small size. Lynda explained these sat on her Grandmother’s narrow 1930’s tiled fireplace. When her friends came round, she would tell their fortunes by the aid of the balls three stuck together side by side and the fourth on top. Being a typical curious girl, whilst her Grandmother was out room, Lynda picked them up. To her horror she dropped them and they separated. To her everlasting regret Lynda never owned up, just quietly putting them back on the mantelpiece. So much did her dishonesty trouble her that when her Grandmother died she asked if she could have them and still to this day they remind her to be honest.

Hemyock Castle was then brought into the discussion by Ruth, who lives nearby. She has seen various occupants live there. Firstly farmers, then university folk, who tried to farm and shared two teats each whilst milking the cow,  to the present owners Captain Shepherd and family. They had a Phillipina lady work for them, who Ruth got to know well. When her visa ran out she had to return to the Philippines but often returned on holiday with gifts of pineapples and rice. She lost everything in the Tsunami and the Hemyock villagers all clubbed together to send money towards replacing her son’s boat. He named it Hemyock Castle.

Continuing with a Chinese theme Helen showed us a two inch high statue of a green horse with dark mane. She explained the set of eight horses, all with different stances had been sent to her Mother by her brother who was away with the Royal Engineers. A complete collection is thought to be very valuable. Unfortunately, although well packed each of the eight horses was damaged in one way or another. As the family rarely saw Helen’s brother, a gift was very precious, despite the disappointment of the damage.

Car Boots can indeed produce treasure  and Mickey bought along two small prints from one such outing. Not thinking much of them she displayed them because she liked them. Then on a whim she thought she would find out more about them and was thrilled to learn they were original drawings by Arthur Packham the Illustrator of Wind in the Willows and Alice in Wonderland. Now beautifully framed they take pride of place on her wall.

As you can see from the above The Clayhidon Friends Group have many enjoyable evenings either making our own entertainment at the Parish Hall or jaunts out, or welcoming some very interesting Speakers. We warmly welcome new members and any who are interested in joining our meetings the second Thursday each month please contact Anne Langford on 01823 680086.

Lynda Ridout

Clayhidon Friends
a group which welcomes local
women for friendship.
Meetings are held on the second Thursday in the month at Clayhidon Parish hall, 7.15pm, with a varied programme.
We arrange outings and hold fund-raising activities for our charity of the year. 
The annual subscription is £16, and guests are very welcome.
Contact: Anne Langford, tel 680086.