This is a copy of a piece that was written for the Village Web Magazine in celebration of Joyce Loveday’s 90th birthday in 2013. Mrs Loveday has since passed away but there are still family locally. (Sadly none of the ladies in the lovely picture above are now with us. Mrs Loveday is on the right, obviously deep in discussion.. The others in the photograph are, left to right: Violet Swift (Prime), Elsie Thompson, Grace Drury, and Joyce Loveday.)
Joyce’s mother Sarah Green was born in 1896 (1901 census – Hogs Lane) and brought up in Chrishall, studying at the village school in the High Street, which she paid a penny a day to attend. She told Joyce that when visitors such as the local clergy entered the classroom, the children would all stand up and the girls had to curtsy to them. Sarah went into service, as did many of the village girls at that time, and moved to London to work, where she met and married Joyce’s father. Joyce and her brother spent many summer holidays in Chrishall visiting their relatives. They would travel by train to Audley End and then to the village by pony and trap. In later years when Weedens, the Chrishall based bus company, set up business, they would arrange for the company van to come to London to collect them. Joyce remembers they were never sure when it would arrive and, one time, their mother had given up waiting and put them to bed, when the van arrived. They were bundled in blankets over their nightclothes into the back of the van, where they rolled around all the way to Chrishall.
Chrishall had no mains water and the village children used to think it a great joke to watch townie Joyce trying to fetch water from the pump in front of the school. She couldn’t get the knack of swinging the handle round and jumping back, so she always got completely soaked!
During these holidays, Joyce met her future husband Roy, whose parents ran the post office from Stanmore Place in Church Road. This was where the first telephone in the village was connected and was the first telephone exchange. Joyce can remember Roy’s mother Bertha connecting calls by pushing plugs into the right holes. If Joyce was very good, Bertha would let her hand up the plugs.
Their holidays coincided with harvest time. Older children like Roy helped with the harvest to earn pocket money but Joyce would wait with others at the gate. As soon as the last stock was cut there was a rush to collect the gleanings, which were a great source of free chicken feed, amongst other uses.
During the war Joyce was evacuated to Henley, with her brother being sent to Berkhampsted. They had asked to come to Chrishall, but children from Enfield came here. You were sent to the area allocated to your school, which is why Joyce was separated from her brother.
On the night that Heydon church was bombed, a German fighter plane crashed into a field off Abrams Lane. Villagers surrounded the pilot, who apparently was “a very friendly man”, until the military arrived to take him away.
Roy went to Chrishall Primary, then Newport Free Grammar School and finally studied at Imperial College, London. He was one of the first village boys to go to university, making his school teacher Mrs Patworth very proud.
Joyce and Roy moved back to Chrishall in 1963 when their daughter Joanna was a few months old, deciding it was a better place to bring up a family. They first moved into a house owned by Roy’s mother, whilst they built their house on a plot of land in Abrams Lane. Joyce found it a shock to live in a village with no electricity or gas lights, and still no mains water. The houses were lit by smoky oil lamps. The original house was very small with an outside lean to kitchen. In 1965, after Julian was born, Roy extended the house, doubling its size. In 1996 the annexe was added and became Joyce and Roy’s home.
When Joyce went into the new Rosie Maternity Hospital to have Julian in 1965, she ended up in adjacent beds with her friend Stella Potter from the High Street, who had her eldest daughter Janet within a few hours of Julian’s birth. They both remember how they had to pack up their own bags in the delivery rooms and carry them up the stairs to the ward. There were no trolley beds in those days! The nurses did carry the babies for them, in case they dropped them, being weak from having just given birth!
Abrams Lane itself looked different in the 1960s, narrow with very steep sides, which were covered with violets in spring (much as Heydon Lane looks now). Joanna used to pick the violets to make into presents for her family at Easter, and was sad when the road was widened and the verge flattened, but Joyce felt much safer walking up the lane to WI meetings.
There were a few characters in the village even then. Mrs Langford, who lived in Cedar House, gathered great quantities of fruit which she cooked up in a huge boiling pan in the garden to make jam. She packed it up in boxes to send to the troops, along with socks and balaclavas, which she organised everyone to contribute. She also ran the WI. After the war she turned her efforts to fundraising for a new village hall, never quite raising enough but always holding another event. She donated the strip of land along Palmers Lane.
Dr Mack, the lady doctor from Barley, knocked on Joyce’s door one December and informed her that, as her Christmas tree suppliers had let her down, she would have the tree growing in Joyce’s garden. Someone would be along the next day to dig it up and collect it. She was not the sort of lady you argued with!
The doctors from Barley held surgeries in the village once or twice a week and for many years, they worked from a variety of premises, at one time from Mrs Cane’s cottage (Barleymans) and then from the shop next door. In 1973 a new village hall was built with grants obtained, connected to the new school building. The doctors were then based in the little committee room (now used by Pre-school), until quite recent times.
During conversations between Roy, who was chair of the Parish Council, and local doctors, it became apparent that there were a number of lonely people in the village. Roy gave Joyce the job of doing something about this, and with the help of Jean Garrett, Jane Mills and Arline Vollam, she set up Open Door, which is still running to this day, and Friendship Club, which closed in recent years. She was involved in bringing the Life Line (emergency response bracelets) service to people in the village, and helped organise the village Luncheon Club. Mrs Irene Cranwell was one of their first members. She also helped with Meals on Wheels, which operated with village volunteers.
We all wish Joyce a very happy 90th birthday and thank her for all she has contributed to village life!
(written by Alison Wilkinson, February 2013.)
There are many long family connections with the village mentioned in this article. You can see the tracing of Loveday’s at Chrishall in the 1700’s on this website: http://www.joshgarrod.com/family-tree/woods/gp105.htm
Y: 2013 C: 21st century