Early Life & Times
I was born in 1893, in Denford, a small village near Thrapston. There was the Church, Methodist Church and a Manor House, 2 Boat Houses, 4 small shops, one butchers shop and a bake house.
It was very popular for boating. People came from towns for holidays and day outings, as the River Nene runs through the meadows. There was a ford at one entrance to the village where children used to paddle and horses and cattle used to go in for drinks. Near by was the wash brook where sheep were washed before shearing. Farm hands brought them miles by road to have them washed. How us children liked to watch them.
One man in the village was blind, Charlie Groom. He was the village Crier. He also delivered the evening papers and worked on the farm of my Uncle on my mother’s side.
Feast Sunday came the first Sunday after Trinity and, for entertainment, Thrapston’s Town Band gave a concert in the street in the evening. The fair stayed three days, and the Church Fete was held on the Wednesday, with dancing on the lawn to music by the band. When dusk came it was lit up by little coloured lamps across the lawns. This was a high time for children to carry them to men to hang up. On the Thursday was Chapel tea then swings and sports in a field.
When harvest time came we used to take tea to the men in the field and have a ride in the four o’clock cart. Then came the harvest festival which used to be well attended. The Chapel used to be so full, that seats used to be set outside for people.
The Christmas Church choir came round Christmas Eve. Boxing Day we used to have them in the house to sing as we had an uncle staying for Christmas and he played the fiddle for them.
Then at such times as the Coronation we used to parade round the village with a four man band wearing our penny flags, then tea and dancing in a large barn.
In the winter we also had our dancing in the boathouse on Saturday evenings. How we used to enjoy ourselves in our simple way!
We have been to Lilford Hall in farm wagons for treats.
There only being a day school for infants we used to walk to Ringstead school, by road in winter and across the fields in summer, about 1½ miles. How we used to enjoy it if we had a ride home in the beer dray or run behind it.
Denford has altered a lot. It seems to be dying out. There were over 100 children at the Chapel Sunday School, now only a few, as the young people have had to leave the village as no houses have been built for them.
I am not sorry I was born there and I always enjoy talking of the good times we had, such as when the man used to come with the barrel organ and monkey. The old ladies used to dance, as well as the children.
So Cheerio Denford