The history of Clophill, Bedfordshire, UK
Including historical descriptions, maps and statistical analysis.
I was 5 when I started school in 1944 and we moved from Clophill in 1946, so my memories will date from 1940- 1946.
To me, life was idyllic at Oakley House during World War 2,but I was aware that something out of the ordinary was going on.Tanks occasionally rumbled through carving up the Tarmac,with sweets being thrown out to children. I remember going to Mrs Wootton's shop for my weekly ration of 2 ozs sweets, which we supplemented with vile tasting liquorice wood.
One night a bomb exploded in the woods blowing out the cellar windows,which no doubt caused havoc elsewhere in Clophill.
Toys were scarce but there were Italian prisoners of war living somewhere nearby who made beautifully crafted wooden toys.Their payment was always Woodbine cigarettes.
When I was 5 years old I went to Clophill School. Mr Holden ( with his posh Austin car) was the headmaster and Miss Ayden was the infants' teacher. It was a happy school. I think we took our gas masks there. I remember BBC Music and Movement radio on a large radiogram, when all the old desks were cleared back to give us more room. On Empire Day we had to march round the Union Jack in the playground and salute. One day a small caravan appeared, I was led into it and 2 teeth were extracted. My parents were furious at not being informed. As for me I still recall the smell of that awful rubber mask! Some names from schooldays I can remember are Mary Diggins, whose dad owned the bike and garage business, Susan Wrighton (parents ran the PO and shop), Jennifer Nicholls, twins Jacqueline and Gillian Taylor and John Eaton.
We were friendly with Mr and Mrs Ashley (I can still smell his pipe!), the Misses Anderson (Holly Cottage?), Nellie Stratton at The Slade and the Collinsons who were at the Waterworks. I was fascinated by the gleaming machinery in there.
At Oakley House, Mr Izzard was the gardener, Gerald Lammas kept the coal scuttles topped up, Mr Nott was the baker. Mr and Mrs Evans lived next door with a bulldog. On the other side at the Mill House were Mr and Mrs Lucas. The mill wheel looked and sounded lovely.
Clophill was a well organised, self sufficient village with many activities to join. My mother belonged to the Mothers Union, WI and I remember pork pies being distributed from the Misses Goodall's garage which opened onto Mill Lane (was it the WVRS?).
The village hall was the base for all kinds of activities - musical entertainments, magician and children's parties; it must have been a welcoming diversion from the War. I remember Sunday School at the church ( Mrs Gobey kept the church clean and tidy).
Mr and Mrs Garrett owned the fish and chip shop and my friend and I used to scrounge the previous night's chips! Doctor Maxwell diagnosed my chicken pox, but I don't remember where his surgery was based. The cows from Taylor's Farm were led along the high street twice daily to be milked, so you can imagine the state of the road!
At harvest time the women and children used to go gleaning, so nothing was ever wasted. We also collected rose hips from the hedgerows- this was turned into rose hip syrup, which was distributed nationally to the children as it was full of Vitamin C. We also had a malt supplement called Virol and the dreaded cod liver oil.
Mr Appleby was a local farmer and I remember there was a tame jackdaw perched on a post next to the field entrance always. We were fascinated by him, so his owner must have lived in the cottage there.
As well as Mrs Wootton's shop and the post office shop, I remember another shop somewhere near the Rectory run by a lady. It sold anything and everything !
A men's barber rented a front room at Mr and Mrs Diggins' house. The fields behind there led to the the woods at the end of Back Lane where there was a disused quarry. We used to picnic here and one day found the remnants of a fallen barrage balloon. Its thick silver mackintosh-type fabric made a good picnic ground sheet. On the other side of the A6 were sand pits where much fun was to be had sliding from top to bottom.
At the end of the Causeway was another wood inhabited by red squirrels ( long gone , no doubt).
There were old metal rail tracks in there- all very mysterious, we thought.
Of course the chestnut woods were always especially popular in Autumn time; I miss them still!) One day someone discovered a fallen empty parachute. Its silky material was well used to make all sorts of garments.
I especially remember Maulden Woods at bluebell time and can still visualise vast swathes of wild daffodils. I would love to think they are still there......