Ethel Jarvis

Interviewed 3/5/85 

Miss E Jarvis (Aunty Ethel) 29 Royal Oak Lane  **Her uncle built the house and 3 others next to it in 1927, but mother did not want to move there

Born 1904 in High Street (in cottage next to Derek Kefford’s house)

Father James Jarvis who worked in Hitchin for Lucas’ Brewery.  His father was Jack Jarvis.

Mother was Louisa Hanscombe, her father was George Hanscombe.

Ethel was one of 6 children- the 3rd child.  They were Elsie (died aged 7 when Ethel was 3).  All children from school marched down to look at Elsie in her coffin- Ethel, aged 3, remembers very clearly seeing her and the other children.  Says “it was the custom”.  Arthur, Ethel, Samuel, Edward and Bob.  Cottage had 2 up 2 down, tin bath in front of fire.  Ethel stayed a lot with Granny Hanscombe (Shillington Road where Mrs Dawson now lives [next to Rosemary Britnell])  Rose Gurney’s father and Ethel’s grandfather, on mother’ side were brothers.

Went to school 1907 at age of 3.  Has no happy memories of school.  Didn’t like Mrs Donson and thinks very little of Mr D.  Says the big room (Mr. D’s) was very full and children were crammed together – remembers when Mr D caned a boy sitting next to her the point stuck in her leg.

Wasn’t allowed to take scholarship as not one of the ‘right’ families.  Could have left at 12 but mother insisted that she stayed till 14. (1914).

A good memory is of the Lucas’ Brewery on August Bank Holiday.  Went there and was given a bottle of pop (? Ginger beer) and then had chips in Hitchin.  It was a special holiday.  (Father left Pirton at 4.30 a.m. to walk to his work in Hitchin).

When she left school she went to live in at Rectory Farm (Mr & Mrs Davies) to help look after the 3 girls – Helen, Vera & Edie.  Was paid 29/- per month and keep.  Mrs Davies was a lovely woman, very generous and Ethel was very happy there.  Mrs Davies used to send liver and other parts of animal (after killing) which they did not want to eat to Ethel’s mother and this was a big help.

The Davies girls went to school in Hitchin in pony and trap (taken by Lake)

One of Ethel’s jobs was to sell the skimmed milk at the door of the farm (it was put in large zinc bath) for ½d. a pint.

She was there for about 2 years.

Then went to work as dental receptionist for Mr Paine in Brand Street.  8 years there.

She then went to London and worked for a Jewish family in Finchley Road area.  There were 4 boys and she went as under nurse when youngest was born, and was there for 2½years.  She then worked for another 2 families (again Jewish) Says it was a wonderful life – very happy.  You were in complete charge and she was obviously highly thought of.  All ‘her’ children keep in touch and she has been asked back to help out with children’s children when Nanny has been on holiday.All Orthodox Jews, saw funeral, bar mitzvah and wedding. She was doing plan for the cars for Margaret’s wedding – couldn’t find her own name – asked which car she was to go in.  Margaret’s mother said “Which do you think? – in the first car with me.”  Time off – afternoon and evening weekly, 1 day per month.Had to leave to come back to Pirton when her mother died in 1938 to look after Father and brothers.  Didn’t like coming back to that little cottage after London conditions!

However in 1939, went to live in 29 Royal Oak Lane with Father and Bob.  Worked in Hitchin Hospital in children’s ward.

In 1950 (January) went to school to cook dinners (this had started in 1949).  No hot water, no fridge, coal fire to heat all water.  Wooden floors.  Had to scrub everything.  Very hard work.80 children to cook for and any visitors.  Was there alone from 8.30 – 10.30, then Eva Mates came to help and one other person to set out tables.  (Vera Thrussell  collected dinner money –  how much for a dinner) Got meat from Allingham – ordered every Friday for week – and vegetables locally (very cheap). Cook for 15 years.  Then a break.  Then went back when G.Welch. came (1971) until 1975/6.

A visiting Director of Eduction ( The one before Donald Fisher) told her “Pirton is the best village school in Hertfordshire.”

During her time as cook, children who fell over in playground used to go to her for “some of my yellow magic”!

About 1950, old Mrs Donson. came up to the school to see her (very frail, just before she died) and said “Ethel, I really loved your mother.”

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