Vera Davis

Interviewed 5/10/84

MissVera  Davis, Pirton Grange Daughter of Robert Davis of Rectory Farm – b. 1907

Davis’s at R.F from 1870.  (R Davis was 45 when married)

Grandfather Daniel b.1821 lived at Hexton, and went to a British School at Old Hall before going away to school.  Died 1894/5.  Family has been in area since 1600.

Gardener at R.F had attended the Plaiting School

Davis’s lived at R.F. until 1931, then went to Pirton Grange.  Father died 1947.

(Miss D had 2 sisters)

Miss D remembers going to Pirton School with her father who was Chairman of Board.  Mrs Donson was known as “the Governess”.  Infant girls curtsied when they went in (which she liked).  Gallery went up in tiers.

“Needlework for Elementary Schools” in which was “Thimble Drill” – done by numbers, i.e. 1. Pick up Thimble etc. → Hands on heads.

Remembers walking up long room (Mr D’s room) with father, a hound pup or two at their heels, to check register and punishment book.

In those days, a Head was appointed who would be good for the village.  Mr Housden was young and a good footballer – Pirton always very keen on football.Her father always appointed a Nonconformist – the Church had the Vicar – and he believed that it was right to do this, as the schoolmaster would be the logical leader of the Nonconformists.

Rev. Loughborough was very High Church – quarrelled with Pollards – Joseph P originally a Quaker, but he married out.  However was always very keen on education.Rev Loughborough had a number of sons – he built Pirton House opposite Vicarage for his sons and pupils (boarders) – young men.

Donson had 3 daughters – 2 eldest became Headmistresses – one at Queen Street Hitchin, the other in Barnet.

Women in Pirton were important because often they earned more (plaiting).  What they said went, in many households.

On Sunday morning, you would see children taking dinner to the bakehouse (Ashton’s opposite Zoë’s) on their way to Church/Chapel and collecting it later.

She remembers Sunday School treat in meadows.  Prizes for boys were always black ribbed woollen socks – ? girls.The sweets which Mother gave where “King of All Mixtures” (large 7lb jars) put into paper bags – Mother thought the scramble “unhygienic”

After 1st WW Church and Chapel combined and had a joint treat.  The Strict Baptist parents took children home before the band – 3 instrumentalists and 4 tunes from 4 – 10 p.m.!

Boys wore celluloid collars, britches and black woollen stockings.  Girls wore pinafores, white, sometimes of butcher blue, long dresses.

Games – Football, of course, cat and stick.  Boys saved for ages to buy football.  Otherwise games were ‘made up’ (no equipment).

Tarred path from Rectory Farm to Mr Andrews’ on the Knoll (Pudding Bag Alley – [E.Anglian name for road or lane open only at one end] made a playground for hopscotch (rectangular and spiral games), tops and whips – 3 varieties; mushrooms, farthing dollies and London travellers, catapults.

Saturday boys worked at the farm as egg boys collecting the eggs (not in henhouses) outside.  They received 1d. for 20, weeding cobbled paths – one boy to each path, otherwise they did less, paid 2d hr.  Their names were on a slate in the kitchen.  They spent their pennies on ½pt blackcurrant jelly cut into small pieces and vinegar flats ¼d. each, lucky dips, sherbet dabs.

Adult school in Pirton before 1st WW (her mother and the governess ran it).  Affiliated with Quakers in Hitchin (Miss Whiting).  It was a bit like W.I – embroidery, plain sewing etc. etc.  They put on a concert once a year – lots of talent in village.  Stage set up (v. wobbly)

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