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1986/1987/1988: Mrs Hinchcliffe's Old Arbury, Chesterton And Vicarage Terrace Memories - Part 2

A postcard Mrs Hinchcliffe sent to her father, Henry Brett, at 106, Milton Road, Chesterton, Cambridge in 1925. Henry would often accompany his wife and daughter for the first few days of a holiday, but could not leave his smallholding at Manor Farm for long at that time of year.

Postmark Guildford, 17 June, 1925: 'Dear Daddy, Just a card hoping you are well. I am surprised you have not written to us. Well, dear daddy, this is all I can say, with love, Grace xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx'

Part two of Mrs Grace Hinchcliffe's 1980s contributions to the Arbury Archive.

'Dad was still working his smallholding at Manor Farm. He did that til he died. He built a conservatory onto the back of our house [106 Milton Road], and put a sink in it - because there wasn't one before. We had no water supply in the house. That had to be fetched from a tap in the back garden - I always remember, the tap and the garden shed were covered in hops, growing all over them! The wash house and privy were in a little lane at the back of the house. The wash house had a copper in it. It was shared with Mrs Day, next door. It made a good bicycle shed as well!

'They used the front room as a shop where Mum sold Dad's produce. She used to make lovely toffee apples to sell, and buy in a few sweets. Mum also did some dressmaking - she could make brides' and bridesmaids' dresses, even do wallpapering. She was very clever, and she cooked lovely.

'My dad said that whenever there was a thunder storm over Arbury when he was a kiddie, Grandma Brett would tell the children to hide under the big kitchen table and go around covering up the mirrors and cutlery and then join them! She had a real fear of thunder. 

We're featuring again our trusty old Arbury map, with the Bretts' house marked with a red 'x' for all new readers. This map dates back to about 1900, a few years before Manor Farm was bought by Cambridgeshire County Council.

'Me and Mum didn't like it, either. If we had a storm in the night, we'd always get up and make tea! Dad used to sleep through it, but then he was out working in all sorts of weather. Sometimes a storm would fade then come back again and we'd say it'd got stuck in Coton Hole! I never really knew where Coton Hole was. Somewhere in Coton, I suppose!'

We have been unable to find any reference to this location online, so if anybody knows anything more about this saying, we'd be grateful to hear!

A Starr and Rignall photograph of Mrs Hinchcliffe, with her mother, Lydia Brett, 1916. Starr and Rignall were well known local photographers of Cambridge and Ely. The photograph had been printed as a postcard, which was a popular trend for sending to friends and family at the time.

'I used to go up to the water course which ran across Manor Farm to get watercress for sandwiches for Sunday tea with Grandma Brett. I was very proud when she first let me go and get it on my own - thought I was very grown-up!'

Manor Farm had been split up into smallholdings after its sale to Cambridgeshire County Council in 1909.

'All across the Arbury were men working different smallholdings, and there were chicken coops and pig sties and fruit trees and vegetables were growing. Mr Baker, who lived in one of the Manor cottages, used to go round the houses in Chesterton, and round about, with a horse and cart, selling vegetables off his smallholding.

'Dad's ground at Manor Farm was five acres and he had ducks, geese, chickens, pigs and a horse for the plough. There was a big shed on there and a well, with a lockable wooden lid. Dad grew corn, artichokes, lots of vegetables, quinces, raspberries, gooseberries.... There were some apple and pear trees there, and that was part of his produce. He put up a tennis court for me and [cousin] Muriel and Mum, and swings for me and Muriel. Mum would often take us for a picnic on Dad's ground. You'd get to it down the little cart track by the last of the Manor Cottages, which ran from the Drive through to Milton Road. I think part of Dad's ground is on the Manor School site now [1987].

'Down that track was also the University Field Labs that we've talked about before, and we used to call them "The Experiment Farm"!

'I remember me and Muriel hiding behind a tree in the Manor Farm Drive opposite the old orchard one day. We were throwing bits of twig and stuff at people passing by and pretending to be ghosts, making strange noises. It was one of those things we did - sometimes we climbed up a tree and did it. It was a prank that got boring quickly because not many people passed that way.

'On this day, Mr Baker came by. We rarely saw him at that end of the Drive because he lived up the other end, and I chucked something out and made a particularly weird noise and he stopped and said: "Good heavens! I think there's something very odd behind that tree! I must hasten on my way!" And he walked off quickly. Well, we were doubled up with laughter, me and Muriel! Of course, I know now he knew it was us and was giving us a bit of fun, but we didn't at the time. Muriel said the noise I'd made had sounded like "a very strange owl", and although I tried to do it again, I never could!

View across Manor Farm from Arbury Road. The trees which Mrs Hinchcliffe and her cousin hid behind and climbed are on the right.

'And then there was poor old Grandad Brett. Grandma Brett always used to say: "Never pick up a needle on a Sunday," - it was the day of rest, but of course there was work to be done. Grandad had the pigs and goats and anything Mr Camps wanted doing to see to, but he'd sometimes try to snatch a few minutes shut eye in the Best Room after dinner.

'Well, me and Muriel were told to go and 'rest our dinner' for a while before going out to play, and there we'd be, sitting opposite Grandad, who'd pulled his cap over his eyes and was trying to sleep. Sunday was supposed to be a quiet, solemn day, but, of course, me and Muriel would get the giggles.

'Grandad would push his cap back up, and say: "What have you two sat on? A giggles' nest? Now, be quiet, do - let me have five minutes!"

'Of course, that made it worse! We knew Grandad's bark was much worse than his bite, and in the end, he'd chuck his cap at us, then go and sit on this chair he had near the piggery at the bottom of the garden. Poor old Grandad!'

Part 3 is here...


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