Oral History

A Few Memories from Elderly Residents

Georgina (born 1919)   –  speaking in 2002
I used to go to school at Deerhurst.  There were three classes – Mrs Dakin taught the infants, Miss Jordan the middle class and Mr Dakin the seniors.  One day when the floods were up Percy Roles decided to measure the depth of water under the school with a poker.  He dropped the poker!  He had to come up to my Uncle Fred the blacksmith and have a new one made.  It cost him 2/6 and that was a lot of money in those days.  He didn’t measure the school’s water any more!

When I was 15 I went to Wightfield Manor to work.  We had no electricity, no gas.  We had a range and that had to be lit every morning before you had any water for anything.  All we used were brushes, dustpans, brooms and mops.  It was all done on your knees and we had about a dozen oil lamps to do every morning.  And I had to have the boss’s study done for half past seven, because he was out and about, watching the men coming into work. ​

Honor (born 1912)  –  speaking in 2001
My uncle and aunt Percy and Olive Perry lived at the Old Farm in Lower Apperley.  They ran a cheese-making business, making Double Gloucester cheese on a large scale.  Farms from all around supplied milk to them. 

They made cheese every day except Sunday, using full cream milk from the morning and evening milkings. My aunt had a large round vat and used to stand on a wooden platform to stir the contents of the vat.  She stored the cheeses to ripen in large sheds at the back of the farm.Jack Fluck, the former Head Teacher of Deerhurst  School, told this story about Mrs Perry :   “About 1935 an author S.D.B Mais recorded a trip down the Severn by boat and in his broadcast spoke about the Double Gloucester cheese he had tasted at the Haw Bridge pub.  A month later a large car arrived at Lower Apperley where Mr and Mrs P Perry lived and asked to buy a complete Double Gloucester cheese.  Mrs Perry was in no hurry until a bewigged gentleman came to the door and asked her to hurry as he had to return to the Assize Court at Gloucester.  It was the Lord Chief Justice of England!”

Phyllis  (born 1911)  –  speaking in 2001
I went to the village school when it was in Apperley and then the Apperley   school closed to I had to walk to school in Deerhurst. 
I grew up living in a cottage by the River Severn next to the Coal House pub.  My father used to grow beds of osiers along the river.  They used to cut them once a year and bundle them up and they were taken away to be made into baskets. 

During the war they were taken away by lorry to somewhere in Somerset to be made into especially strong parachute baskets which were dropped into France with supplies in.  It was hard work getting the osiers to grow just right for cutting  –  they had to grow tall and straight.  On the river bank near where the footpath from Gabb Lane meets the river there was a house and a long barn adjoining it where they used to treat the withies.  There were about 3 cottages on the river bank there – basket makers lived there. 

Kathleen (born 1920) –  speaking in 2004
I helped to run the Sunday School in Apperley.  Apperley Court used to hold a Christmas Party at the village hall for the Sunday School children.  There was a Christmas tree with candles on.  They would have a “sweet scattering” – they would throw sweets on the floor and the children would rush to pick them up.  I never did very well – I didn’t want to scrape my knuckles! 

​In the summer there was a party on the lawn at the Court.  The village brass band would play and there would be dancing.    Parents used to be allowed to go to the Sunday School parties with their children, then in later years they were only permitted to go along afterwards for the dancing.  At the Christmas party the mothers would be given a present to take home – one year there was a very nice hot water bottle; another year a pair of gloves. 
One year the Ludlow-Hewitts from Wightfield Manor gave all the children a lovely party, but they were told that this was Apperley Court’s privilege  – I think there was some friction between them. 

Norah  –  speaking in 2004

​Mrs Allen (of Severnside) used to keep a lot of cats.  Her husband was a train driver on the GWR.  She used to row the boat out in the floods.  She ran the basket-making business.  The basket-makers made all sorts of baskets.  The kuype was for coal.  The coal baskets were round.  The fruit baskets were square shaped and held 40lb of fruit, such as plums or apples.
My uncle was a basket -maker in Yew Tree barn.  There was also a cider press there.  There was an orchard where our bungalow is now.​

Apperley Court had lots of greenhouses growing all manner of produce  –  grapes, melons, peaches, oranges, lemons  –  anything you could want.  Mr Stainer was the gardener.  The greenhouses were at the bottom of the road on the corner.  They used to sell surplus produce there  –  they always produced more than the Court could use.  The gardens belonging to the Court were beautiful.