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Growing up in Longworth.

Dorothy Homan and Jean Mitchell.

Sisters Dorothy Homan [nee Bungay] and Jean Mitchell[nee Bungay] were interviewed about living in this area, on 14th July, 2000 by the Longworth History Society. Jean has given me her permission to add this to this website.

The Strings, Longworth.

We were both were born in Longworth. Our parents were Sybil [nee Clark] and Henry Bungay. Jean was born at The Strings next to Sudbury Farm. They were tied cottages attached to Sudbury farm on the northern end of the row nearest the field. We lived in the end one, then it was then Aunty Dorc (Dorcas Collett, next Aunty Hilda (their father’s sister) then Mrs Selene Godfrey. Also Peg-leg (Mr Broad). The Collins came later after they moved.

Dorothy was born at Barn Ground (which was then called “Council Houses”) because they needed a bigger house as the Strings only had two bedrooms and they had five children at that stage and their mother’s father, George Clark lived in the tin hut down in the garden.

JM: “He lived in it for quite a few years and they took his dinner down and did everything for him and he kept the garden going and the orchard. It was Knobbly Garrett in the farm. Dad planted quite a lot of apple trees in the orchard which has now gone. That was his job. I can remember walking down the big long path – it seemed to be forever and we used to go down and play at the cottages on the corner called Red Row. My friend lived there, Hazel Ireson, who moved next door to us. We’ve been friends ever since. Red Row had one room up and a little landing and a big well ”

JM: “We had a well and a bucket lavatory at the top of the garden and I was frightened to death to go up there, especially at night as it was just open fields at the back of it. There was one for each cottage, two then a gap and then two. They were usually emptied every night – you dig a hole or a trench.”

Barn Ground, Longworth.

Marten’s Lake houses were already built before Barn Ground. Latton Close was about 1947.They moved in 1936 a few weeks after their brother Tom was born. The houses were newly built.

JM: “When we moved to Barn Ground there were still bucket lavatories, but it was attached to the house then. Mr Ireson grew wonderful vegetables. My Dad always dug a hole but Mr Ireson spread it along a trench!”

DH: “We had no electricity and a pump for the water”. Barn Ground has four grey houses. Nearest the Appleton Road was the Top Field, there is a house there now. Where the LDV (Land Defence Volunteers) had trenches [which] were dug in the war [and] which were good to play in. There is a telephone kiosk there now and there was the old telephone exchange there. Then No 9 Nancy Rivers, No 10 Iresons. No 11 Bungays, No 12 Jo Green. On the main road was Stan Gutteridge and Mr Tubb next door and over the road was Mr Hollifield (now Laburnum Cottage).

JM: “Both neighbours fattened pigs and then Mum had all the bits and pieces that were left over. They had a proper butcher to cut them up. We collected rabbits from the man at Hinton; we must have had at least 6 rabbits a week. We had them stewed or baked. We usually had beef on Sunday and a lot of chicken because we had our own chickens in the garden. That’s what Mum brought us up on and puddings, spotted dicks, big steamed puddings with syrup on. She cooked everything on the kitchen range. Sunday morning with the roast was always the cakes and the tarts and she used to say. "I don’t know why I bother, because they are all gone by the next day". Monday was wash day and it was bubble and squeak day and the cold meat left over from Sunday because you always had a roast on Sunday come what may".

DH: “On Monday morning she had to get up and light the copper in the shed and that took about two hours. Tuesday was starching and ironing and with the iron wringer. She used to make you stand at one end while she was winding the wringer and the other one the other side catching it. Thursdays was bedroom day – changing linen and cleaning the bedroom”.

JM: “You didn’t get out of it you all had your jobs. Race home from school and if that kettle wasn’t boiling by the time she got off the field you were for it.”

Games we Played.

On the Hinton side of the junction was a derelict cottage which all the village kids played in. DH: “We used to play in the big red barn down Green Lane which went down to the withy beds.”

JM: “That was another play place. We built houses galore down there. Lamb Pit was another place we used to go – sorting the rubbish out. But of course then the roads weren’t busy. You were allowed to go free and easy but you are not now. It is not safe. It’s not just the traffic either. You went down to the river and right down Harrowdown it was just part of living. Your Mum said , `Go on out to play’ – now you say you can go out but don’t move from the door.” They swam at Duxford and Newbridge – not Harrowdown that was too deep.”

JM: “Everybody went to Duxford. All the families on a Sunday – Mum used to load the pram up and take us all down there. It was alright going down – it was coming back!”

Family Life.

Mary was the oldest (now at Hinton), Ruby (Swindon), Jean (Southmoor), John (recently moved from village to Weston-super-Mare), Tom (Wootton) Dorothy (Fyfield), Derek (Besselsleigh), Richard (Longworth). Mum worked in the fields even when she was pregnant and she had all at home apart from the last two. Nurse Arnold and then Nurse Woods came round.

JM: “The baby clinic was in the old Sunday School and Mum said you didn’t go out when you’d had the baby for six weeks and then the first trip was to the church to be ‘Churched’ and then you could go out. You had to stay in bed for at least 2 weeks and the babies were in long gowns until they were about a year old. She certainly had a hard life. She took the children to the fields with her unless we were old enough to look after them. Father had a car to go to Abingdon but he did work long hours especially at Sudbury farm. He didn’t help as they do now. He did the garden with the vegetables and mending shoes but not feeding or nappy changing.”

JM: “Mum had four of us on one pram. She took us all hop-picking. She always took us out on the field. We always walked over there and had to do our share of picking. It usually started the last week before school started. I once went to string the hops when Ian was small, about 4, but I didn’t like it. Mum did it lots of times. Mr Young would be hot on you if you didn’t get it right. The hop-pickers used to take over. The shops would have queues.

DH: “I remember coming home from school and getting the coal and lighting the fire.

Our Schooling.

They went to the old village school. There were five of them in the school at one time.

They were taught by Mrs Owen who was very strict. Mr and Mrs Owen lived in the Manse as he was the minister.

JM: “The big class was Miss Simpson. I was always getting into trouble. She came on a bike and lodged in Beggar’s Lane at Besleys and if you didn’t say, ‘Good morning’ when she passed you had to march up and down the room ‘Good morning, Miss. Good morning, Miss. Good morning, Miss.’ because you hadn’t spoken to her as you passed. But she kept the school up together.

I was caned a number of times – bend over or a stick across your hand. I was playing truant one day, Hazel and myself. Mrs Ireson had gone hop-picking and we thought it was a good opportunity to stay indoors and they came out and fetched us. I got the cane then. I very often got hit with a ruler if you were talking. I think my brothers got hit more with a cane. But I used to shoot out there and say, ‘Don’t you dare hit my brother.”

JM: “For some of the time, we were schooled in the morning and the evacuees in the afternoon, but then they started using the village hall for the evacuees. Usually two of the older ones from the school had to go up and help wash up or get the vegetables ready.

DH: “We used to play were Bow Bank is now, we shouldn’t have been. There was a stile. We used to go across there for Nature walks with the school.

JM: “Every day we seemed to going to Harrowdown for a nature study walk. Hazel and myself thought we’ve had enough of this so we let the others go and went off home. So we had the cane for that. Another time we thought we’d go ahead and wait at the river for them and Miss Beer spotted us and made John Jordan and Dennis Tarry come up and fetch us and she sat there with all the other kids until we got back and she said you’ll jolly well walk behind and once again we went back home. I think being a third child I was a bit of a dare-devil.

Miss Simpson was very good – she just scared you to death. Mrs Stroud and Miss Beer she was the fill-in teacher that we had during the war, she lodged at Rant and Tombs and then we had Mr Jones, from Wales who pulled the school up together (DH - with an iron rod).

School Sports Day.

Sports Day was important. All the schools would meet and whichever one won the Shield you met at that school. We had coach loads it was a big occasion. The Bungay kids were good at running. Sports were at the at the Manor field opposite the old Sunday School. Rounders was a big thing.”

Jean stayed at the village school until she was 14 but later the children moved at 11+. Dorothy went to Faringdon. You didn’t have the opportunities in those days we were bought up more to look after kids and do housework and things like that. Nowadays girls and women just wouldn’t do it nowadays, but we didn’t know anything else. Tom and Richard got scholarships - Tom went to Roysses and Richard went to Magdalen College School.

Starting Work.

JM: “I left school at 14 and worked for Mrs Lawson at Southmoor House. She had quite a few disabled people then, there were no elderly then. It was Mrs Lawson’s home and her family and she looked after about a dozen Down’s syndrome. Steve stayed there for years, even after Mrs Lawson moved. I used to help her daughter Jean with the hay-making in the field (Tony remembered he used to look after the cows. After Mrs Lawson, Dr Stinpson turned it into an old people’s home. Now Margaret Bradbury, who worked with Jean at Longworth and Witney took over the running of it. About 23/24 patients.) Mostly men. Apparently she was in Longworth first at Marten’s Lake in 30s(bungalow at Duck side after Council houses) and started there. I worked for Lady Page at Newton House. After that I went to Woollies in Oxford ,then had a transfer to Abingdon and after that I went to Longworth Hospital when it opened. I got married after that and stopped. When the children were small I worked for Guy Weaving at the farm and was there when he died and then I went back to Longworth Hospital until it closed and then I worked at the Community Hospital in Witney and am still there part-time (6.30-12 in the morning). Mum would never ever let you be without a job. If you didn’t like a job Mum would say well you don’t finish there until you’ve got another one. Which didn’t hurt us.

DH: “After the village school I moved on to Faringdon Modern School then I worked for Mrs Jack Weaving when Gillian and Paul were little and looked after them. Then I cycled every day to Stimpson’s shop in Abingdon until I got married. It was horrible in winter but you just had to bike and didn’t think anything of it. When the children were little I was Sales Manageress at the Woodbridge Plant Nursery in Longworth.”

Types of Entertainment

JM: “I belonged to Brownies but that was Hinton Brownies in Hinton Village Hall. Mum belonged to Longworth WI and Mother’s Union. DH: “I was in the Girl’s Friendly Society. It was a get-together in Longworth in the old Sunday School. It was a throw-JM: “We used to call it Bible Classes. One thing we were always made to do – Sunday School at 10, Church at 11 and Sunday School at the Chapel (next to the school and Church in the evening - that was your Sunday – every Sunday the same. We were made to go we didn’t have any choice. I used to prefer Chapel as you seemed to learn more and it was friendlier. Mr Owens took it”

DH: “Oh it was a chore.”

JM: “I think it was pushed at you too much. Dad was Chapel and Mum was Church. I can’t ever remember her coming. She had too many kids to look after. You did get all the outings and the Christmas parties.”

DH: “We used to walk down The Ham (a track from the Hinton Road Longworth, through Slade’s to the Lamb and Flag area.

DH: “ Mr Kirby used to come to the old village hall in Longworth twice a week, Wednesdays and Saturdays. In the end he used to put reserved on our seats because we were always there but when the hop-pickers came you couldn’t get a seat. It wasn’t fair. That’s how we got to see all the films. When the Americans were here we had films on a Sunday where Rimes Close is now. We used to see all the films –there wasn’t anything else to do. We used to pay about 1/-.” “We also used to have square dances there.”

JM: “But we weren’t old enough to go to those. We had to stay babysitting which we did a lot of! There were a lot of tears when they left. We had parties and sales in the Manor Barn. The Yanks had that barn and showed us pictures there as well. Mostly American films. We used to see the Three Stooges, Popeye, Charlie Chaplin – It seems terrible acting now doesn’t it.”

DH: “I used to go to the youth Club in Longworth village hall. That was good. We used to have table-tennis tournaments went off to Harwell. I was hell-bent on dancing. I used to dance the night away. I was just self-taught. Ball-room, square dancing you name it. I used to go jiving. We used to do square dancing at school. In the village hall or the manor barn or I’d bike to Buckland to the hall there. My life revolved round dancing at that time. Some dances were in the week. I used to have a ride on the back of Ray Dunsden’s bike because he was my dancing partner for years we used to just be in unison – just friends. He was in the Lad’s band and he did his own skiffle band – he was good at it.)

JM: “Everybody had nicknames. Ray was called Basin, Reg was Budget, Tony was Kipper. Enoch was Bernard.”

Longworth Village life.

JM: “The visiting dentist used to come to Hinton. In Longworth he came to what is now Rosedene (after it was the Crown Inn) He came two or three or times a year. They didn’t fill teeth in those days they used to take teeth out instead.

The doctor was at Town Pond – Dr Woodward. If you wanted medicine you went there and waited while they made it up out of these big jars. He had a dispenser. I can’t remember having a doctor in Longworth. It was Faringdon or you called the doctor out. We had Dr Wyatt for years and old Dr Stenhouse.

Most things went on in the village because you didn’t go out of the village. Do you know I never thought anything was beyond the White Horse Hill because we were taken there for the Sunday School treat and I thought that was the end of the world. And I didn’t think there was anything beyond Newbridge – not for years! You just didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t go to Oxford. When I first went to Faringdon I thought what an enormous, big town. Hazel and myself and Mary - she was allowed to take us - and gosh I was in my glory. I’d be about 5 or 6. I thought it was massive – I can’t stand it now.

Miles and Gordon Drew used to have a small rose garden at Hollifield corner. One day when I was about 10 or 11 my little brother was up the tree pinching the little cherries and Gordon started shaking the tree with John up it so we raced home to tell our Mum so she comes along and she hits Gordon and of course us kids thinking this is great. But the fact was she was so disgusted that he was shaking a tree with a child in it. We shouldn’t have been pinching the cherries but we were so pleased that she hit him. If ever we got into trouble she never ever took our part – she gave us a clout. She’d say right you’d no business doing it.”

DH: “I got caught one day by the local copper Mr Adams at the telephone kiosk by Barn Ground. It had Press button A and press button B. We’d watch people go in and when they’d gone you’d press button B and get the money out. I was doing it one day and he was stood outside the door and he grabbed me.

JM: “There was always a policeman on a bike round the village but scrumping apples was part of life. Mr Batts knew it went on. They went over the wall from the school playground. Someone stood guard while others went over the wall. I did that many a time.

DH: “We used to pinch the walnuts off the tree at Brights and chestnuts up by the Longworth Hospital.”

JM: “We used to know the best trees, but that was before Slade had a house there.”

JM: “We always had a fight with Hinton kids. Eggo Edney, he was one of the biggest ones that we fought with. Roger Edney was another one we fought with. We used to gang up on them and we were afraid to go over there and they were afraid to come back over to ours. But they really were innocent things there was no vandalism. We were not allowed to swear and you definitely weren’t allowed to call anyone a liar.”

DH: “You wouldn’t dare answer your Mum and Dad back.”

JM: “A lot of our clothes were made – cut downs. Mum was lucky during the war because she couldn’t use the coupons because she hadn’t got money to buy us [things] so lots of different people said they would give us clothes if Mum gave the coupons – it was illegal but this is what happened.

Dad mended most of the shoes. By then he was working at the water mill (where the Ock Mill now is) in Abingdon and he used to cut the leather off the leather belts to mend our shoes. You used to have a Blakey put in the top and the bottom and make sparks on the road.

Rant and Tombs did sell clothes. Free’s sold Wellingtons and Plimsols. Everything happened in the villages. We did go over to Hinton to fetch the newspapers but that was as far as we went there.

I was quite a lot older before I went to Kingston and Southmoor. We had to come up and collect the accumulators at Freddie Palmer’s. We’d stand there and wait for that and be dared to tip it as we brought it back home and Mum used to say if any gets on you it burns. It was more for news for our parents – it was “don’t touch that radio because we want the news on”. We made our own enjoyment. But you did always get round a table at mealtimes. Sunday roast. In those days you only had an arm chair for Mum and an arm chair for Dad and the kids just sat in upright chairs. Top to bottom in the bed.”

DH: “You used to have to walk down to get the milk from the farm (Broughton’s)”

JM: “ It was delivered you put out the jugs and they came around with cans and made sure you got a clean jug out for the next morning but if you wanted extra you went to the farm.”

DH: “You had to collect the bread from Bowns.”

JM: “Before that it was Batty Green at Silver Birches and in Mum’s time he baked at the New Inn. He ran the strawberry fields. This end of the village between us and the Duck was Mrs Day’s house and Cox’s bungalow. The Duck was popular – it was a friendly little pub. There were seats in the garden you could sit there while your Dad was in there.”

JM: “We didn’t have holidays. Once when I was about 14 we went on a day trip to Southend. We used to have coach trips to the local fairs.

DH: “Local people like Mrs Douglas and Ivy Belcher used to organise mystery tours.

Wartime Memories.

JM: “The Americans camped in the field at the back of the Manor and they were in Bright’s opposite the Post Office. They was where we celebrated VE and VJ day. They had a sentry inside the two big gates. In the shed by the pathway they stored waste paper during the war. They were always giving us ring doughnuts, sweets and chewing gum. Ice cream – that seemed to be the best. Of course we passed each day because we had to go in twos up to the village hall to have your dinner from school

JM: “Dad was in the Home Guards in Buckland. After the Americans came the prisoners of war – the Italians and the Germans - and then we had the Poles and then the Irish, building the roads. We met a lot of Americans. Mum took in a lot of the American’s washing. Mary was old enough to be going to dances and also they were hanging around the gate for her. It made a lot of life in the village. We got to know the prisoners of war because once again Mum was working on the field with the other ladies and they worked with them. They picked up the lingo. The women had a good time out there with them. Richard Cox’s father had a shed on Draycott Moor Road and they lived there, 5 or 6 of them at the farm gateway.

Marriage and Adult Life.

JM: “I met my husband through my older sister who married someone from RAF at Abingdon and he was one of the ones who was invited. He was stationed at Abingdon. When I was about 17 a lot of the RAF were at Kingston. They were billeted to keep their eye on the remains of what was there. It was through them that my sister, Mary, met her future husband. You always had your wedding reception at the old village hall. Ruby’s was the only one at home. We all lived at home until we got married. We lived there for a bit after we were married and then we rented into the house where Joan Weaving is now. We went into a bungalow in Hanney Road but I didn’t like a bungalow we swapped with the Bisps in Latton Close.

DH: “I married John Homan. The Homans used to live in the council houses in Stonehill Lane. Before that, after the Americans left they lived on the Draycott Moor camp waiting for the houses to be built. His stepfather was the local decorator.

Our Children.

Dorothy’s children live at Longcot and Brackley. Jean’s son Ian, is a chief tax inspector outside Glasgow and Ann is at Abingdon.

Longworth Village Changes.

JM: “At one time I could lie in bed and think all round the village (Longworth) and know everybody, now you don’t. When I worked at Southmoor House, coming from Longworth there were no houses. Right from Palmers to Southmoor House there was nothing, and over the other side of the road there was nothing. Yates shop there were queues. That was a real old fashioned shop.” DH: “When the hop-pickers were here they used to queue through the shop and out onto the pavement.”

Their mother used to go to the shop in Longworth even if she didn’t need anything much, just for contact.