There were five of us, all ladies. We were paid £4.50p a week. We all rebelled and walked out. It was not the done thing in those days, was it? He used to bible-teach. We didn't mind to start with that much but it got worse and worse.
He read the Bible to us two or three times a day. Almost unbelievable these days, I know.
Prior to that my brother and I used to go hop-picking from aged about eight. We had half a bin each and that's what you did for three weeks in August, summer holiday time, to earn your school uniform. What was left from the money you could have for a gift.
I was in and out of the village during the war. We had
different houses. We were next to the King's Head and we were bombed out of
there so then we went back up to Tudeley into a little cottage.
We were bombed out again, not completely bombed out, but all
the ceiling came down because there were two or three doodlebugs which killed
the farmer's milk labourer. Then at the age of nine in 1948 we moved into a house
in Sychem Lane which was very cold but brand new.
I do particularly remember the cottage at Tudeley because
mum had done us a beautiful dinner and then we had fruit salad with cream for
the first time but we heard the bombs coming and went under the table and of
course the ceiling came down, so no fruit salad, no cream!
We survived, we were lucky. I also remember mum
walking us up Tudeley to go to see Nanny Hearsey and one of those "flying arses," as my mum used to call them,
came over us. One minute we were in one ditch then she crossed the road dropped
us into another ditch, then another one until it eventually landed but you
never knew where they were going to land because it went silent.
I don't remember being frightened - you've got a mum haven't
you? I suppose she was brave and she didn't show us she was frightened.
Work at the plastic factory went very well. I have to say
that's where I grew up because you were with a mixed group of people, of all
ages, male and female, and I was earning good money. I was in what they called
the aeroplane room, spraying, assembling planes. I was there for a year earning
good money and from there I went into nursing.
I had always thought nursing might be a calling because for
two years I'd been to night school at
Kent and Sussex hospital to keep me up with my maths and English. I started
nursing at 18 in September 1957 at Pembury Hospital and I nursed for a very
long time. The hospital was very good. We were very smart. You had your uniform
-- your white pinafore, your frilly hat. The training was hard. We used to do 48
to 60 hours a week.
I liked everything through the training though I eventually
veered off into "gynae," which was the speciality for the rest of my life. I
completed training at 21 and got married at 21 after four years courting Trevor
Mum died three months after Trevor in December 2004. She'd
have been 88. We ended up in Tonbridge in Dernier Road. That's where she spent
most of her time there. But her whole family is all the village people. Her
maiden name was Hearsey, related to the Greens and the Doldings.
We came to FOG in 1984 and were pleased to be back in the
parish. We met some wonderful friends, which was great and we're still friendly
with them now.
Karen was born in 1961, on August 7; Terry
arrived in 1966 and Susie in 1967. Karen had two boys, Terry had three children
and Susie had boy and a girl. The oldest would have been 31 in 2019 but he was killed in a car
accident seven years ago. The others are 30 down to 15 and all are doing well.
I have fond memories of growing up in village though at the
age of eight I was taken into the isolation hospital up Sychem Lane with scarlet
You were in a ward for three weeks and only allowed to see
your parents through a glass window. That was very traumatic but other than
that living in the village was a happy time.
You could walk around, go down the river (I learnt to swim
in the Medway at Hartlake, aged 11). And there was scrumping -- and not getting
caught! It was a happy time.
Mum was wonderful person considering the life she had to
start with. She was the next to eldest of nine. The eldest brother was four
years older than her so he had nothing to do with the family really. Her whole
life, she was bringing up brothers and sisters and then she had us children.
She was left a widow, went back and looked after everybody. She really did have
a hard life. She brought up brothers and sisters because that's what you had to
do, helping parents.
Then when they moved from the Red Cow to Tonbridge, she
became cook at Judd School. Going back in her life she was also a cook at the
Tonbridge School before she got married.
She was an excellent cook. She enjoyed it. She knew her
children, especially at Capel School. She used to make extra jam tarts for the
children who didn't like the puddings that were on the menu!
When I first came to Sychem Lane at the age of nine there
were very few houses in the village except of course Pitman's house which is
the oldest one in the village. At Tully's shop they used to have a horse and
cart and they delivered the groceries - and they had the best German chef ever.
He made the most wonderful jam doughnuts. Whether he was an ex-POW I don't know
but he was German.
Brian and I were very fortunate because at one time mum
worked as cook at Postern House with Mr and Mrs McGrath who were very well-off
and once or twice a year they would send this great big black car and take us
up to London for the day. It was great.
Also they had an open day at Postern House where well-to-do
people used to come and it was like a tennis day so you got to know the
different people. I believe the song "By a Babbling Brook" was written (or
inspired) in the grounds of Postern House. There's a lovely little babbling
brook that goes through their garden.
I also had another privilege because the nanny of Mr. and
Mrs. McGrath also looked after the children of the d'Avigdor Goldsmids so I got
to know all the children from that family as well, including Sarah. We used to
play cards and games in nanny's room..
Sarah died in the terrible sailing accident. The lovely windows,
prior to those of Chagall, I think they were put in by my grandad Taylor. He was
a farmer but he had lots of other jobs that he did and I know that included putting
in the windows at the church. I was told they were stored upstairs in the
church loft. Whether they are or not, I've no idea.
Most of it was a happy childhood. However, I do remember
when we lived down at Tudeley I was sent on Xmas Day in 1946 with my brother
with nice new clothes and toys to walk up and see nanny. My brother, bless his
heart, veered over to the tar tank. It was a freezing day with ice on the tar
and he said: "Stand on the ice, Gloria," and I did as I was told and the ice
broke and I went down into it!
How I got out I do not know but I was covered in tar from
head to toe. I had to go back home and I was scrubbed down and all my clothes
were burnt and I spent the rest of the Xmas day in bed scalded. I've not really
forgiven him! (laughter)
In those days you did not go into pubs as a young lady. I
served in the pub when my dad had the Red Cow and helped out when I was 19
until we left. I never drank.
I didn't drink a glass of wine I don't think until we moved
here and it would have been 1990s when I started to drink a glass of wine to be
polite when we had dinner parties!
I was a pretty "goody-two-shoes." I didn't drink, I didn't
smoke. I didn't swear. I can't say I'm that now!