Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ruth's Memories of her Childhood


Annette, my mother, with David and Ruth in Wales c.1920

Ros y Gilwen / Morgenau – First World War

{1} It was a cold bright spring day when the children arrived with nanny –Alice Saunders – at Ros y Gilwen. Rooks were cawing & wood pigeons cooing. Sheep were in the big field under the ha-ha & a few early lambs bleated plaintively.
Griffith had ridden all the way from Shrewsbury sitting up * beside the chauffeur in front. He was very thin with round blue eyes & fiery red hair. As soon as the car drew up by the shallow wide slate steps he was out running about on spindly legs – he was a child who was into everything. His little sister Ruth, Baby as she was called, the youngest of the family was a sad sight. She was “delicate” so was bundled up into sheepskin coat, fleece outwards, on which she had been sick several times. Her red hair was hanging in bedraggled rats tails & her little face was pinched with misery. William & Margaret the butler & house parlour maid were there to greet them & he was carried inside & hurried away to be cleaned up before she could be hugged by her two eldest sisters, Veronica & Gwladys who had been left in charge of organising the move.
Lewis was still in India & Sophia in the house they had just left, Coton Manor near Shrewsbury, seeing to things.Already the furniture & staff had been installed - Mrs Jones, etc (*Doris Culverp*)
{1R} Lewis had not liked the Shrewsbury house [It was a?]pretty Kate Greenaway house, red brick with white painted* gable windows & a * with * * * & shrubs. Sophia loved [it?]. He was a countryman [&] there was nothing much for him to do & he craved to be back in Wales. Sophia loved the * – her county relatives came to call & she spent time going round antique shops & dealers choosing furniture & china.
There was a quarrel but Lewis got his way. He was also concerned about the looming clouds of war & wanted a place * large family where they could be safe & have good food. So Ros y Gilwen later called Morgenau was taken on a long lease & the family of five girls & one boy moved in * to live there through the war years. In a remote & beautiful {2} part of Wales.
Ros y Gilwen was a typical * country estate in that Pembrokeshire part of Wales in the early part of the century. Like the others* it* sat in the remote countryside entirely self sufficient, a home farm, a large garden, walled fruit, vegetable garden, a stable at back.
There were some bad times but on the whole that last summer was a happy one. Lewis, who was doing well by this time, came home from India every summer when the law courts closed & blissfully * he hacked* about his acres wearing a Norfolk jacket thick woollen socks & * * boots* long* & thin* with rounded toes. He carried a stout stick to scratch pigs * * & beat down nettles. He was a tall handsome man much liked by his workers to whom he spoke Welsh. The Welsh tradition was encouraged & the children learnt Welsh doing * * * the island story. Grandmother Pugh insisted on the Lord’s Prayer being said by even the youngest in Welsh & everyone [sang] {2R} the Welsh National anthem.
Sometimes Lewis would be accompanied by his daughters, Griffith too would go along but not Ruth who was considered too frail. Me too, me too she would say but no one took any notice & to make up she was allowed to make little cakes in the kitchen with Mrs Jones.
Sophia did not care [for] Wales, she was very English but she cultivated the local gentry & gave parties for the older girls. There were lots of young people in that part of Wales before the first war & lots of fun to be had. Transport was difficult & mostly bicycles & ponies were used.
One dear young man had a magnificent * Indian motor bike & used to roar* down the back avenue* * & the house to impress the girls. One day he took Ruth for a ride – her mother was furious & forbade him the house for a * “So dangerous now don’t you take a child if that * - the or *”. To the girls were all in love with him. He was to become a famous racing driver & was sadly killed driving home on one summer night.
{3} G & R still under nanny’s rule we [were] sometimes allowed down for dessert*. Frilled* white silk shirt, lacy dress* with wide satin sash & * necklace were worn. Ruth sat on Lewis’ knee & picked at grapes*. Snuggling* up * * & “making eyes” The girls were jealous, “Look at Miss Polly Pic* they sneered until told to be quite by Sophia. The dining room was panelled in dark oak – above the walls were painted royal blue & the windows * with mustard velvet curtains.
Ruth was given a pony, a small Welsh Grey called Tard. She was supposed to have a weak heart so was not allowed to bicycle with others. One great grief of the early life happened on frosty winter morning when all the ponies & horses were careering about the field & Tard slipped on the icy grass & fell snapping* her leg. She had to be shot by one of the uncles who happened to be staying.
Bad things were always connected to animals. Sophia’s black Pomeranian dog ran away & strayed into the * railway line & was crushed to death by an on-coming train. Dear* pigs were slaughtered, * * * heads cut off on a block in the stable yard & much loved cats invariably took to the wild. Occasionally the children {3R} Playing in the wild dingle near the garden glimpsed*them but they never came back in spite of * * & saucers of milk hopefully put out under the bushes.
That first Christmas all the family went* up to Granny’s house set on a very steep hillside with magnificent views on the estuary. Everyone was there, uncles, aunts, cousins & friends & of course the nannies. The children vied with each other as to whose nanny was the best. The two main contenders for the crown was the Cwmg*y family & *. One nanny was late * with grey hair & the other round* & stout with black hair * * grey & a rosy red face. They were great friends & sat always together in front of the nursery fire waited on by the nursery maid who brought them supper up on trays.
Plays were acted mostly historical & legendary scenes, games were played & there was singing round the piano & country dancing. It is hard to imagine how it all happened – the house must have been crammed full – but it did & one supposes expectations were not so high as nowadays & most people were {4} used to simple living. Of course there were the servants. Every household would have maids, under maids, boot boys & so on & it was not difficult or uncomfortable to live with someone always ready to bring in logs & make up fires, to take hot water up flights of stairs in jugs with* w* be * * placed in basins * with flowers & covered with freshly ironed damask face* and chamber pots under every bed, a slop pail which was emptied each morning. At Morgenau* there was one bathroom on the first floor & on the nursery floor a big hip bath which had to be filled with * cans – in winter it was placed in front of the nursery fire – the children loved this method of bathing. There was a lavatory encased in varnished wood with a pull up handle to flush the china bowl which was painted with willow pattern people. For some time Ruth could not understand how these people could survive* the flushing water. “Don’t be silly baby” said Griffie contemptuously they are painted people. Griffith was the fount of all knowledge as long as Ruth was concerned. He took her on to the farm & explained about birth & death & showed her * & calves being born until they were told to clear off. But how do the babies get there? Asked Ruth who was puzzled. Griffith whose rather sketchy knowledge did not quite {4R} run to this ran off shouting*. Ruth never did find out the facts of conception until many years later.
{6R} Life gradually settled down that first summer. Sophia was busy organising the household & furnishing the house; * * for Lewis * back from Calcutta for the summer break*. The elder girls (all four of them) were at school in Epsom with the unlikely motto of Sacria* Sanctification embroidered in gold or green on the pockets of the dark* blue blazers – Mrs Jones made delicious meals & brewed kettle* beer* & the housemaids sang about their work & giggled with the lamp boy & the delivery boys.
When the girls arrived home for the holidays they were shocked to find the little brother & sister “so ignorant” & at once set up a school room in a little room behind the big hall. The children were not enamoured of this & regular lessons given in there by V,G &P soon lapsed. There were other things to do, dresses to be made in new styles, new dances to be practiced. Calls were exchanged between the other big houses in the neighbourhood. Letters were exchanged sent by one of the farm boys on a pony – there was of course no telephone. Informal dos were arranged at short notice. Hops as they were called. There were a * of young men in the families around & friendships were made. A cottage was rented by the sea at Borth a long stretch of sand made bathing possible for even the youngest & getting* picnics among the sand dunes * {7} place * the weather. Picnics * place in the rock+y cove at Gwbert on sea near Cardigan - an isolated place with a row of neatly* build bungalows along the cliff & a small hotel with a magnificent view of the bay – a place of mystery for the young ones as no one went to * in the summer time. Sometimes Sophia & her American friend would join the party & sit on * * cliff well wrapped up in coats & hats while the young people shrimped & fished about in the rock pools for crabs. They never found any * * & tiny* grey strips with black eyes were cooked for tea on a primus stove gradually they turned pink. They were a little too small & R soon got tired of it besides she did not like the sizzling boiling water which was the shrimps death knell. The girls* could swim – in decent bathing dresses & frilly caps, the children jumped about in blue & white striped suits like a pair of comics shivering with cold & fear*.
{7R} Before the first world war there was a sudden in flux of American books. Huckleberry Finn, Brer Rabbit, Little Women & Beaufort* Jo & stories of the wild by Francis Thompson, * Jack London – a series about the American Sioux Indians - * * was called Deerskin* & became the idol of G & R who pleaded for Indian suits & ran about whooping & insisting on riding their ponies bare back.
{8} After Ruth recovered from her colitis* Saunders had to have a holiday. She did not get many nor indeed regular wages. Sophia regarded her as an appendage of the family & never thought that she might want a life of her own.
She had trained as a hospital nurse & had been engaged to a young man who went off to the war & was immediately killed. She must had a strong sense of duty for she gave up everything for the family for* whom* she was a loved member for many years first as nurse then housekeeper & lastly confidential maid & companion to Sophia who grew very stout in later years & made violent scenes often about money. Although Lewis earned well he was forced to give up his appointment as Judge of the High Court of Bihar & Orissa & go back to his more lucrative position as leader of the Bar in Calcutta where he had a great reputation as a pleader. He had an extravagant wife & six children to support. Sophia who herself had wanted to be a doctor & had trained at Bart’s hospital was a woman before her time & she insisted that all her girls (& her son of course) should have a good education & what* she called “A good chance in life”.
{9} Ruth was a nervous child – she was frightened of many things & when the screech owl called in the fir * outside the house she had a paroxysm of terror* & thought the witches had come for her & worse* screamed for her mother. Nanny would come running in her red flannel dressing gown & would pick up the child holding her in her arms & holding her tight against her capacious bosom until the screams stopped.
Other fears were of the * * boys in the Prescelly hills, a great picnic place but where if you were not careful you could slip on the emerald green grass & be sucked down * death.
When the winter winds lashed the trees outside the nursery window she imagined she was a boat on the sea & lots were being drawn for who was to be eaten. She invented a mantra for herself which she said again & again with eyes tight shut in the shelter of the bed. It was simply the words Roses & Violets endlessly & gave great comfort.
The house had been half shut up – the pretty honey coloured drawing room shrouded in dust sheet. Nanny & the children moved downstairs & used Sophia’s room & Lewis’ dressing room. The staff was reduced by *
{10} That first summer at R & the last one before the war was a magical time, Veronica had had a season in Calcutta & was discontented & bossy. She wanted * once to get married & have babies of her own – Gwladys was to go one* next* & would be followed by Phyllis, but during the war years they had to remain at school or rather school in Paris & come home for holidays. They were not quite grown up yet. The next winter S & Lewis returned to India where they were to get stuck for the duration of the war. Saunders had returned from her holiday & was as usual the lynch pin of the household. After war was declared there was [a] feeling of excitement – Young men enlisted, servants ran away to join up in whatever way they could, after* the * refugees from Begium started to arrive & books were published with pictures of children struggling across the Flanders plain, but the house, farm & garden were still a going concern & somehow winter was got through & eventually summer came. Young men injured returned from the front, in uniform with Sam Brown belts with shine like newly picked chestnuts, small moustaches. The sons of most of the big houses F*, P* Castle Malgwyn went* of[f to] the war anxious to be in it at the start as it was not expected to last very long. Nearly all of them were to be killed in France.
The country house gradually retreated {10R} behind closed blinds* & many never opened up properly again.
There were also many visitors at this time. They flirted with the girls & spoiled the children. He* brought a water pistol for Griffith & a cage of white mice for Ruth. A bugle appeared which everyone tried to blow without success. Finally it was given to Nan who later was to use it to summon the children into lunch or dinner as it was called in dark years & dinner had become supper, was to be eaten round the kitchen table.
The children now sleeping in the big spare room were curious about their elders behaviour. After they were supposed to be in bed they would hang [out of] one of the windows & try to hear what the sisters & their young men were saying as they sh* about.
{11} When the blow came that was to shatter this Elysian existence, Lewis gathered his whole household together in the dining* to announce * that England & Germany were at war. The bright summer light flooded through the bay windows highlighting the golden curtains & the family portraits on the blue walls, catching Lewis’ reddy* hair & the red gold heads of the assembled children * * white eyes. There was a feeling of excitement & awe – no one knew what to expect. For the very young children was associated with armour, crusader castles & brave deeds. The older girls had already begun to think & * * the possibility of war *& a feeling * * & fear. Stupid * * one of the maids giggled nervously, was quieted* by William. Most of the young men around were involved in join[ing] up & some already had their uniforms & the girls would soon begin classes to become VADs. [Voluntary Aid Detachment]
{11R} Many arrangements would have to be made as Lewis & Ada with him would return to Calcutta. Life for everyone would be completely changed as * set* in*. All the girls were at boarding school or in Paris & the little ones would be left in charge of nanny – Mr Worth* would continue to oversee the farm & gardens & it seemed possible that life would more or less continue as usual. No one foresaw the inevitable decline as it was thought the war would not last long.
Gradually the staff left* Williams* Margret* every one [of] the maids were to go into munitions factories & the boys to become soldiers, but for Griffith & Ruth innocent in their unawareness * for the next few years they* were in paradise. Nanny looked after them & provided & left them free to run wild provided they came in for meals. Later she was given a bugle said to be German which everyone tried to blow. Nanny used it to summon the children in to meals but often they did not want to come & said they thought it was an old cow mooing. Their best friend * * the son of Mr Worth* - the three spent nearly all their time together. Henry* was a pale boy with a pudding basin hair cut of mouse coloured hair. He was terrified of his father & said What will my Da say he’ll take the strap to me if he finds out.
Mr Worth* was rather * an Englishman* {12} but Mr Worth was kind & rather downtrodden it was supposed. The children were sometimes asked what* but they didn’t like it very much. They were both anxious that everyone should know their place & didn’t encourage the children friendship *.
There were some games of which he certainly would have disapproved. They took place in the laurel shrubbery outside the back yard gate & were in the nature of explorations. The boys would vie with each other who could pee the furthest & Ruth took down her knickers to see how she was different. There was some innocent fumbling* about – psychologists would say the very early awakenings of sexual awareness. Interest was lost very quickly & the laurel game abandoned. Henry’s father would have had a fit if he had known.
As winter drew on the children were taken to Cardigan to buy clogs – the leather uppers were * & had to be buffed with dubbin, the soles were of wood shod with iron it was desirable to pad out a bit with thick woollen socks. The clogs were lined up in the back passage outside the kitchen & took on lives of their own – it was a terrible thing when small feet become too big & the once friends had to be abandoned. Iron hoops were * along with hooks made out of the straightened handles of old buckets – wooden {12R} hoops were considered ridiculous & sissy. Griffith had a big * & Ruth a smaller * one much like themselves. The clatter made by the iron hoops * * was deafening as they * across the flagged back yard. There wasn’t much in the way of toys – a few * of various kinds & * with long * used for cutting * etc. * * & books. * * of the war a new set of books appeared about Zeppelins. It * * Zeppelin & a family of baby Zeppelins attached to the parents with strings * we thought they were silly & didn’t last long * & children’s paper, the school stories began to have spies* in them which was very exciting.
{13} As autumn & winter came things began gradually to decline. Ada went back to India while she could, thinking it was her duty to be with Lewis. “No one can look after your husband but other people can look after your children” she said often, leaving them in the charge of faithful Saunders. Mr Worth was to run the farm & life was to continue as usual. The war would not last long. But soon the farm workers, the maids & boys * the place drifted away. Williams & Margaret* were followed by Mrs Jones – old William* Daniels was left to cope with the large walled garden which he kept locked behind a heavy wooden door in the brick wall. He became very bent & hobbled about with his stick getting more & more cross – He disliked the children anyway – they climbed into his mushroom shed through a hole in the roof & stamped about in the loamy* soil & ran along the high slate capped garden walls. Eventually Mr Worth too was to go. The elder girls were VADs, the middle ones were at boarding school & came & went but found the old house depressing & life very dull with all the young people gone. Soon they too went about their own affairs leaving Griffith & Ruth in possession of Eden. The children did not mind, they were happy, they had each other & their own {14} secret world & private language. Other people were something of an intrusion.
On one visit Phyllis was shocked at the lack of discipline & decided that the children should start education. She set up a * in the small library behind the big hall & called it the “school room”. She bought copy books with unlikely sayings like “The sun shines in summer”, “Children must tell the truth” “Goodness is better than wealth” & set out simple sums but her efforts were not successful. “I am very board” wrote Ruth to her brother & Griffith gazed into space & refused to learn. It was soon given up. As the year dragged into winter with no let up – life became increasingly hard for Saunders. She had no time to discipline the children & the only rules were that they must come in for meals, they must leave the clogs in the back passage by the kitchen & Ruth was not to go out without a wide woollen scarf crossed on her chest & secured behind her back with a safety pin. They always wore clogs in the winter, these were made of coarse leather with wooden soles shod with iron. Nanny rubbed dubbin into the uppers when she had time & with their woollen socks they were very comfortable & became good friends. The children hated having to have new ones as their feet grew. {15} They made a terrible clatter on the stone flags of the back yard & added to this was the sound of iron hoops which were beaten along with the straightened handles of old buckets. The * at the end * on to hoops & they could be batted* along at high speed. The child only knew about wooden hoops from pictures & considered them very “sissy”.
In spite of the lack of education reading aloud was the greatest pleasure in the dark evenings before a good log fire in the big hall.
The Beatrix Potter books, Alice in Wonderland which they thought very silly, Strewel Peter & Nonsense Rhymes, a funny book about a family of Zeppelins, father, mother & baby moving* about* on London – they graduated to the Tarzan books, school stories about Spurs* - Saints* later on Shakespeare & Gulliver’s Travels, Robinson Crusoe in children’s editions – these were great favourites. The children ran about in perfect freedom, if they were naughty no one knew about it & they were very happy. Of course there were squabbles from time to time. Griffith would inform Ruth “Today we will go right down to the bottom of the dingle” & Ruth would reply “No we wont, I want to * * * * up the marigolds* for the cows.” Don’t be sill baby, cows don’t eat marigolds, you can’t”. “Yes I can” {16} Evan said I could “Anyhow I’m not silly, you are. You can’t even say your alphabet. Anyway cows do eat marigolds.”
“The trouble with you baby is you don’t know what’s what & what’s not.” A great pronouncement to which there was no reply.
As time went on there was strict rationing. Everything became scarce. Inspectors came round to see if food was being hoarded, the horses, except for the pony & some of the farm animals were requisitioned & driven off. Young soldiers were billeted in the house & eventually the * came to cut down the huge trees in the dingle for props to shore up the trenches. The children loved* these great brawny* neck* with * noses* beards & thick woolly hats. All day the sound of their two handed saws & great axes which two men wielded in turn filled the dingle. The great trees fell leaving spikes on the stumps which looked like fairy castles with towers & battlements. The logs were hauled up to the road on the far side of the woods with chains attached to heavy horses. It was very * & the children spent much time down there being petted* & given sweets & made much* of – supposedly men were homesick far from home & their own families. {17} The billeted soldiers were not so nice. Nanny disapproved of them & bullied them. They were ordered to be in by ten* o’clock at night when the back door was locked. If they were not in they would have to sleep in the back yard. This they frequently did & told the children gruesome tales of being bitten by rats. And then the food inspector came to call. Mr Williams – after a look round the place he came to look in the house but he was no match for Saunders. She showed him the almost empty store room & sweetened him up with cups of scalding hot tea & then accompanied him into the big hall. There he saw Griffith & Ruth sitting side by side on the sofa with their * heads* bent over books. They looked up at Mr Williams with round enquiring blue eyes & he was charmed. He looked at the books. So it’s Welsh is it he remarked with a smile & went away. Once off the premises the children jumped about with shouts of joy & helped Saunders to carry out the tins of sugar & sacks of flour & * * & some special tins which had been hidden under & behind the sofa, back into the store room.
Poor Saunders must have had a dull time when she was not too tired to go to see the Worths & occasional visit from the district nurse who would come with her son {18} Frank a gangling boy of about 12. Nan & her friend would * & the children including rather * Frank would play Snakes & Ladders or Ludo or some such game. Then there would be cocoa & [a]way on her bicycles in * dark night.
Once a week there was a trip to Cardigan, about 5 miles away in the pony trap. The pony had been spared the requisitioning because it was too small. They would trundle into the small town & first visit Mrs Owen in the chemist shop & then on to Nanny’s friend * Jones the fishmonger who kindly allowed her to stable the pony & trap in his yard while they went to the cinema. This was an enormous treat – films were shown in a sort of hall with a corrugated iron rood & a tinny piano. Sometimes if it rained hard it was impossible to hear the piano at all. The favourite films were The Thief of Baghdad [1924], The Mark of Zorro [1920] etc & Douglas Fairbanks was the hero.
Bewitched by the * * later they would trundle home in the darkening night with a carriage lamp lit by a candle on each side of the trap. They did not give much light but the pony knew his way & they came safely home. Then there would be a supper in front of the kitchen range.

India Trip, Probably winter 1913/14
It was fortunate that S was a good organiser for Lewis was too busy making money to support the large family to take much part in the administration. It must have been quite a problem. One winter S took the two youngest & nanny of course back to Calcutta for the cold weather. Torn as she always was between husband & children it seemed the best thing to do.
There are few memories of this time but a picture of a big square white house with a veranda, a colonnaded porch on whose steps sat a Chaprassi dressed in white with a scarlet sash who carried messages, letters* to the post & he knew exactly everything that went on, all of which was relayed to the other servants in the go-down* at the back of the house where they slept & cooked their currys by the light of a flaming* kerosene lamp & laughed & exchanged gossip in their free time.
The children love it there were children’s parties, visits to the Zoo a very splendid place, drives & rides on ponies & Lewis’ horse & walks to the Maidan. In charge Ayah, who would sit round in a circle with all the other Ayahs under a p*ple tree while their charges messed about among themselves.
G was always an original, on one occasion of a children’s party the carriage was ordered for nanny to take the two children. “Nan you sit in front with Hussein* & baby & I will sit in the back”. It will be quite alright insisted G. Nan saw no harm in it. She may have thought they just wanted to play at being Ladies & Gentlemen which they sometime used to do. She agreed & off they set. {5} As they rolled* down the red road Nan noticed passers by laughing & shaking their heads but thought nothing of it until she saw someone pointing. She looked round & saw Griffith sitting up with his solemn little face adorned by a black moustache with waxed points which he had got out of a cracker. Ruth sitting beside him had been vowed to silence was* was hastily * that took * place between the two Ruth in hopeless giggles.
On another occasion with the carriage the horse shied & the side wheels fell into the ditch beside the built up road. Ruth was thrown out & dislocated hip but Nan who had been trained as a nurse at Barts hospital was able to get the hip in again & after a few days in bed strapped up, the child recovered with no lasting bad effects.
It came to an end with the happiest memories of Sunday expeditions to the Zoo when they mingled happily with the Indian families & their children & visits to the Ezra* family who lived in a big house of birds parakeets * * * minah*. They had a huge garden & collected up animals, small deer & monkeys & so on. Sophia loved* going there – Lady Ezra was a large woman lavishly dressed in colonial style & she gave tea parties for lady friends & was famous for her * puffs*. One day S was taking the {5R} the children with her had forgotten the children in the * of the party & they ran out to play in the gardens. In one secluded patch there was a huge & very fierce monkey who had to be kept chained up. When Sophia came to & called to the children there was no response. The garden was searched & the two were eventually found sitting happily one on each side of the dangerous monkey who had his arms round their necks. He did not wish to let them go nor did they wish to return to boring everyday life.
Sadly on the way home a tragedy occurred * family * for a loss of duty with the Indian * service was on the same ship. When the bugle sounded the parents kissed the children good night leaving them in charge of the cabin steward went up to dinner. The little girl was feverish & cried a lot. When the mother came down after dinner no baby ** But where’s the baby she asked. The little boys rather shamefacedly replied “Oh she cried & cried & when we told her to stop she wouldn’t so we said that if she went on with that we would put outside. She did not stop. Between them they forced open the porthole which was secured {6} With a huge screw nut & pushed the baby out.
Christmas with Uncle Archie
One Christmas during the declaration* of war was spent in Uncle Archie & Aunt Nina’s house Cwm Goedweg* & was very jolly. Nearly twenty children all first cousins must have gathered in this hospitable house. Saunders & nanny Howard were in change in the nursery * they were great friends. Nanny Howard [was] tall & thin with a very quite * & nanny Saunders round* rosy* & very forceful as she had had to be.
Ruth & cousin Annette who were to remain friends all their lives would argue with each other as to whose nanny was the best.
Annette had a pony called Creamy & was made to share it with Ruth. Uncle Archie would take his * small sons out to the local hunt. Griffith went too & either Annette or Ruth depending on whose turn it was. As the winter dusk fell the long hack home had to be done with pain & grief saddle sores & aching limbs to* the* blowing of horns* * * & good but the horses & ponies had to be put away rubbed down {20} & fed first.
Carols would be sung in the evenings. Aunt Nina played the piano & everyone danced Sir Roger de Coverly up & down the Hall which was decorated with fir & holly. It was an occasion for the little girls to wear frilly dresses & sashes Annette’s brother Archie gave Ruth a kiss behind the nursery door.
Another Christmas
{22R} The Christmas was spent at Cwmera* Granny Pugh * * dower house north of Aberystwyth. It was quite a small house but everyone was crammed* in. the nannies in charge * children managed somehow * they were great friends. {23}
The house was of grey stone in the Teifi valley looking towards the Prescelly hills from where the great stones of Stonehenge were brought, dragged somehow for over a hundred miles in the days of the Druids.
The house was capacious & comfortable one once * solid * with Jacobean style windows. It was capacious & comfortable in good Victorian style. There was a wide oak* staircase * which was the side door set with stained glass, blue & yellow. The westerly sun flooded through making patterns on the flagged hall floor more brilliant than any carpet. After a few weeks everyone had settled down to the usual routine of country house living of the period.
The older girls had already installed themselves in the first floor bedrooms across the hall landing from mother’s room & father’s dressing room.
Brass cans of hot water were brought up by the maids several times a day * * *. Ruth * to be a * mother’s room while she changed for dinner. {23R} The Rector came to tea bringing with him two of the choir boys. One was chubby with round face & chestnut hair & the other * with thinner features. The girls promptly fell in love with them & they became one of the * subjects for confidences in bed at night. Going to church became an excitement. The boys sang like angels & were quite uninterested in the simpering little girls in their pretty hats. {24} It was a very happy time spent at Cwmgoedwig* for the two little girls. It was a change from boys. Confidences & imaginings* were exchanged in bed at night. They were interested in clothes, Annette’s nanny always saw that they were properly dressed. * night Annette’s long dark * hair was * up in * * & tied at the top * * *.
Aunt Nina took them shopping in Aberystwyth Annette had a pink coat & a pink straw hat finished* with velvet ribbons rose buds & daisies. Ruth was very jealous & to comfort her advice was taken from Mrs --- about a hat for her. It had to match the yellow coat with the black velvet collar which had caused such disaster. Eventually a yellow straw [hat?] was done to be trimmed with black velvet ribbons & buttercups & a few forget-me-nots for “contrast”. Ruth loved [it] & christened it * but the elder sisters made fun it & called it sissy & *. The time came to * * as a house had been found further down the valley. The girls came to * pack up & take Ruth away the hat was packed in its box together with all the other bags & bundles into an open touring car.
Later the priceless hat could not be found & Ruth cried & accused her sisters of having [left] it behind. Oh no they said, {24R} said it must have blown off the back of the car. Ruth never forgave them.
Annette’s mother, Aunt Nina was a glamorous creature with soft blonde hair piled up on her head & very pale blue eyes. She * about in blowing old * chiffon & played the piano & sang when the children came down to the dining room in the evenings. One evening just when uncle Archie was * return to India he too sat listening & suddenly started to cry – tears ran down his cheeks & he *. The children were ushered quickly away without understanding why he was crying.
Perhaps he had something hurting inside. They fled away to the safety & security of the nursery & cocoa & ginger biscuits. Very* small children have not the equipment to question, understand or analyse, like animals they accept was[sic] is done to them with a vulnerability that strikes deep into the heart.
The realisation that an adult could suffer pain (for reasons they did not understand) was a shock to the little girls. The protective shell of * * childhood was rudely* *. So grown ups could have feelings & sorrow & pain? Such things were * * had been accepted * suddenly became * as happening to other {25} people in the outside world. A small loss of * occurred & a step towards growing up.
Nobody talked to the children about the facts of life – it was not considered good for them to know & questions were expertly ignored or falsely answered with fables of gooseberry bushes or storks etc. It was Griffith who told Ruth that babies were born like cows having calves * later to **, but conception remained an unfathomable mystery for many years. She was getting fat & had to explain why. At this time they became interested in the human body particularly breasts – having none themselves, they speculated wildly. A land girl was sent by the authorities to keep on the farm. She was a big strong buxom girl & wore open necked shirts, khaki breeches. She * a * * top of the house & the children became very fond of her & would * her* into their room* at bed time. She would tell them stories & lean* on their beds so that they had a good view of the cleavage between her young firm breasts as they wound their arms round her neck & pulling her close. They were sad when she left.

{25R} Soon the baby was born another boy. At prayer time Annette was told to thank God for the birth of another brother. Thank you God she said as instructed I’ve got two* already & they are so lovely. Poor child she was to have two more.
In the Jan* Welsh countryside everybody hunted in those days from the landed gentry on their smart polished horses down to the farm lands[?hands] with * tied below the knee with twine* * hacking the clumsy farm horses with feathery feet. At everybody’s first kill blooding had to take place. A du* * smear* of the fox’s last * * life blood had to be daubed on the cringing* cheek. & reluctant or not one became a member of the hunt. * * * long to survive into the years ahead.
Annette had a pale* pony called Creamy. You must share him with Ruth said her mother. “I don’t want [to] he’s mine, I won’t” Her father said she must share things so a reluctant* Ruth was made to go on alternate days trailing slowly on the fat* Creamy. On these long days & the long hack back in the late afternoon as a pale moon shone in the darkening {26} sky & frost crisp beneath the feet. The soreness of legs & bottom shifting from side to side to ease the pain & longing beyond all caring for the day to be over. Too tired even to have the bacon & eggs. The only consolation was a birthday present of a beautiful * * silver sandwich tin* in its own leather case with * stamped in black which could be buckled on to the saddle * * a small snack at a lull whilst the hounds drew yet another cover.
When the boys came home from school there was a good deal of ragging & silly jokes, sardines were played in the evenings with much giggling & there were kisses behind the nursery door. The little girls were glad when they went away & left them to their womanly* chores. They c* sheep* * the * valley & were sometimes allowed to take the older little boys out in the p*.
The drive at Cwm was steeply cambered & fell away at eastern* side in shrubberies. One day the p* went out of control & heavily weighted it plunged* down the side * fell onto its *. The little boys were astonished but unafraid* but the girls were aghast with much heaving they got the p* upright & fled down to the safety of the road which led past the farm gate. Don’t tell, {26R} don’t tell they admonished each other & the boys who did not know where they should not tell. It had all been a great excitement.
After Morgenau – Bridell and Trip to India
{27} The following autumn mother decided to take Ruth back to India with her. She hated being without a child & always had one in bed beside her if possible. Griffith was at prep school & was to spend the Christmas holiday with Miss Tate.
The house in Wales was shut up – shrouded in dust sheets with Saunders & Lewis the butler left in charge as usual. Lewis was very * not pompous at all, during the winter he wore father’s boots & drank the wine in the cellar.
Meanwhile Granny Pugh had moved from Cwmeran* - the steep hill was too much for her - & gone to live in a villa on the road to Aberystwyth. She was kind & forbearing & always had a cup of tea & a piece of bread & butter to give to the itinerant tramps who passed up & down the county. Gradually she got a name for her good hearted * & became a recognised stopping off place for the travelling people who passed that way.
Unfortunately they exploited her & the end of the agreeable arrangement came when * some of them* unaware* of the existing tradition & respect in which* granny was held, stole grandfather’s gold watch & the cook’s winter vests. The family put a stop to it. {28} So childhood * on – experiences of many homes, many people * one them. They stretched* & grew up. Peaceful acceptance was * & *. Childish things were put aside & troubles y*ings undertaken. Nothing would ever be the same. {29} The departure from Ros y Gilwen was the flight from paradise. The gates closed behind them & the children were kept apart. A * which lasted all their lives. G* [looks like E] had to go to school & Ruth had to stay with friends & relatives until another house could be found.
Eventually Plas y Bridell was bought & as usual Saunders was put in charge. It was a large comfortable house with a slate roof & stone paved hall & had a huge beech tree on a mound overshadowing the less good rooms where the children slept. It did not have the elegance or charm of the old house. After the family left it became a convent of unclosed order [of] nuns who cut down the beech tree & spoilt the original & most attractive feature of a not very attractive property.
The transition period was a lonely time for Ruth – her beloved brother at school & she spent time alone with nanny with occasional visits to friends of her mother who had two slightly older nieces who came to stay & thrilled Ruth with their glamorous clothes & ballet dancing & talk of “going on the stage”. She had a very lazy & obstinate donkey to * her the few miles to their house. Sometimes the donkey would stop to munch the wayside grass & refuse to move until Ruth had to get off & pick a switch out of the hedge to encourage it to move on.
Mother possibly aware of the lonely little girl decided to take her out to India in the autumn when Ruth was ten*. They would spend the cold weather in Calcutta & come home for the summer & Ruth would then go to boarding school, St Monica’s, in the autumn.
A butler had to be engaged to * the house in Wales, Lewis, who was to remain for some time – when the family [was away?] he & Saunders ran the house. Lewis could turn his hand anything & * his duties as butler to take in the * of the chickens & cutting up wood. He was a rubicund & jolly person & thought of himself as head of the establishment. He wore father’s boots & happily drank his way through the cellar in the long dark evenings. For the summer a ladies maid was installed to look after mother’s & the girls’ clothes. She loved handkerchiefs & gloves & was rather genteel. She did not last long, there was also a chauffeur, a well educated man who had fallen on hard times. The girls used to invite him into the * room for parlour* games in the evening after mother had gone to bed – she would not have approved, he was paid £3 a week.
{31} When the family departed together* to India the house was shut up & Saunders & Lewis were left in charge.
The whole family except for Ros* & Griffith at school out for Paris where to buy clothes for the girls. They stayed at the St James d’ * hotel in the Rue de *, an old Palace* with a big courtyard behind iron gates. There were long red carpeted passages down which Ruth used to run helter-skelter*with the maids doing the rooms. It ws the only exercise she got & she longed to stretch her legs. Everyone was too busy to take her for a walk.
Long hours were spent at the dressmaker Madame M had a “salon” at the top of a tall old house in the Rue d’ Alsace* which had a creaky very small lift all * & * & holding two people or one if it was mother who had become very stout. Up up clanging & creaking & at the top * Madame Mayerne* who continued to make dresses for all the girls until she became very grand & successful. Evening dresses were ordered, dresses for the races & tea dances & “* for mother” & Ruth was not left out. She had a thin* wool dress, * with a pleated skirt * * collar with a narrow* ribbon of royal blue & a * blue taffeta one checked with white with a huge bow on the behind. The blue * {32} Une petite fille vous * madame.
And then came the account, Mother would wave it aside “Send it to my husband” She would say “Mais cher madame monsieur ne pay pas”
Nonsense, of course he will pay. Poor Mme Mayerne*, she was terrified of * her husband & mother. In * she would call for her husband a huge buffalo of a man with a * face. The two would confront each other with rage across the * salon. Madeline* Bent* the fitter would cower* behind the door & the little assistants would giggle behind their hands.
* madame bellowed M if the note* is unsettled the dresses will not be made & stormed out of the room. Of course the dresses were finished in time – mother was far too good a client & had sent her so many of her friends & of course the bill was paid. But father could never accept Mother’s* determination that her daughters should be properly dress to take their place in the Calcutta season. Mother had the reputation for having the best dressed daughters & the best look in Calcutta.
Ruth hated the rows about money, she would slink* away but in later life she was grateful for all mother’s struggles. The Aberystwyth cousins, the other side of the family stayed in their Welsh home behind the * of the hydrangeas in the new {33} house with * peacocks* on the * which * *. In Griffith Evans had built for is retirement as * * * general* in Calcutta.
The Evans side of the family took after their Strachan grandmother – they were dark & skin with more delicate features than the red headed * cousins. Aunt Emma was like a porcelain figure with piled up white hair “which turned white in a night” after some shock or other. She wore a black velvet ribbon choker round her neck in mourning for those who died as victims of the F* *. Uncle Griffith’s son Lewis who won a VC in the first world war took the daughter to live with him after the death of their parents & there they stayed their whole lives – only one married. Probably they had happier lives than their cousins but less interesting.
The next call was to Marseilles where Mother, father, two sisters & Ruth were to embark * the P&O Liner Kaiser* * considered very up to * & fast* * was full of ants that got into everything. But first gloves had to be bought, long white kid gloves for the balls & * for the races – Marseilles was at that time well known for glove makers.
Ruth made a friend * * ship * - her father was a colleague of * & later they were to do lessons together with two {34} other children in a large shady garden* of a house in Ballygunge a suburb of Calcutta.
That year they lived in a big flat newly constructed & standing in a large garden with grass & many flowering trees. There was a big veranda shaded in the midday heat by green Ch* which the servants let down every morning & rolled up in the evening to let in the cool air.
The veranda had * trees & a huge cage for birds, * finches* & cheeky * green parakeets with red heads. There was also a grey parrot who sat on a stand & * sun flower seed which he then spat out on the floor*. Ruth would have liked a little monkey but this was not permitted but she did have a nice fat roan pony called by the unlikely name of Pamela Pudding.
In the morning she would ride with her father * horse* Boudicca was slow & stately. They would progress down park St to the Maidan then on to the race course where they would greet friends & go home. The * would be waiting squatting under the trees & would produce from the folds of their clothes pieces of sugar cane & small bananas* which the horses loved.
{35} Ruth loved to help her sister dress for evening parties. Mme Mayerne had made their beautiful dresses. For Gwladys a very full skirt of white * with little garlands & dark pink* silk flowers* here* & there & for Phyllis a a * * style in pale yellow * taffeta with a huge water lily & * hanging* * the waist. These were the best dresses for the ball at Government house. Their daytime dresses were made of Indian cotton by the * who sat on the veranda holding the material between the toes of one foot, thus giving him three hands to hold the stuff * for hemming* & seaming*. He had a little sewing machine which hummed along while the birds trilled & sounds of clashing brass utensils & conversation drifted up from the compound where the servants lived. The * * had some sort of meal to eat & Ruth used to mix it up with water in little brass bowls.
The girls had lots of admirers as they were called & on Sunday evenings mother* often* had open house & any friends could come to dance*. Often there were fourteen or so & there would be lots of games & singing. Ruth had a friend a tall dark young man who always seemed a bit apart from the others. She was allowed to stay up for dinner {36} * night & if there were thirteen people he & Ruth would sit at a little table by themselves as mother was superstitious about the number thirteen.
Quite often in the evenings when the setting sun flamed behind the big * & bats * about in the palms – would call in to see Ruth. He would * a while & they would play cards & on the evenings when everyone was out & the * & * * * * * & Ruth would hang over the veranda * hoping hoping that he would come.
She was soon to be the years * * * was just before Christmas & was a good excuse for a party & he arranged a * & picnic party. The * would set off with the horses some time before & the servants in a ghari* horse drawn * to carry the picnic to the outskirts of the * where the jungle & paddy fields began. The girls invited all the many* people they liked best but when Ruth pleaded for her friend Alis* to be included she was told it was not possible “He hasn’t got a pony – it would be too many” & so on. Ruth burst into tears with hatred in her heart. She complained bitterly on his next visit but he said never mind you * {37} ride together. No wonder she was in love with him. They were to meet again years later at somebody’s wedding & it was his turn to fall in love. He wanted them to get married but nothing came of it although their friendship continued. He had * married no children & the marriage ended in divorce. He must have seen the child of whom he had been so fond, grown into a desirable woman on whom he could lavish all his care & devotion. Sadly during the 2nd world war he fell from a balcony in a flat in Cairo & was killed, No one knew if it was suicide or an accident.
After the War & Briddell
The end of the war was a sad time. Father who had taken so much trouble to establish his family in his homeland was begged by his old friend Richardson to relinquish the lease. He had had a very good offer to sell to a Birmingham industrialist & he did not want to refuse. Father felt he could not stand in his old friend’s way & plans had to be made to get another house. The family were on the move again. Eventually another house was found (description) but the intervening months & weeks were not good ones. Griffith went off to school & Ruth was sent to friends & relatives. One visit was to Mrs * (description). At last P y B was bought – Griffith was able to come back for the holidays & all the old family things appeared from storage & made the place like home. The children were all excited but it was not the same as in the old paradise days. He was * & grown up & a lot more bossy than usual but as something of the old life was restored he relaxed & happily climbed the great {40} beech tree outside the house & made stews with a snared rabbit, potatoes & onions in a fir wood at the end of the drive. He borrowed a rather* old pot from Mrs Jones. Still with * * * was only a rubbish* old* one* & the stew burnt* with a nauseous smell. As autumn approached the parents left for India, Griffith went back to school & the house was half closed down i* dust sheets. Ruth was left with nanny & the butler Lewis who had agreed to stay on as general factotum. He & Saunders would keep the place going. Lewis was [a] rubicund* jolly* person & Ruth loved going with him to feed the chickens & pigs.
During the winter he established himself comfortably in the servants hall & helped himself freely to father’s cellar & borrowed some of his clothes notably father’s boots.
Anxious probably about her youngest daughter’s isolation & always wanting to have one of her children with her, mother decided to take Ruth out to India with her in September & so began another period of changes. The patient resignation & acceptance of which young children have to bear has always astonished me – their vulnerability is so *. They must accept – they cannot do otherwise & are at everyone’s mercy.

Schooldays
On their return Ruth would go to boarding school where all her sisters had been. It was a {41} strict school run by two ladies - * Miss Brown who was in charge of the girls’ general welfare & * * beneath* Jones who looked after the scholastic side. She was * graduate a “blue stocking” & it was due to her efforts that the school flourished & provided an excellent education. Sadly she suffered from what would now be called depression. Suddenly she would appear with a * in her eyes & instruct the wholw school to assemble & be put to work * the hymn books in * oiled cloth. They all knew that this heralded Miss HJ’s departure & she would not be seen again * the next term. A*y her* friend’s * came as visiting * * Vera P* * B’s * Claire Leighton & Winfred *by – Felix Swinstead Sir John Maimolt*. The school was strict – no talking in the bedrooms, getting up at 6.45 washing behind screens* * * bath three* a week. Beds had to be made & clothes folded & prayers at 8.30. The school motto was service* & sanctification* which was emblazoned on the girls * blue blazer’s pockets in gold thread.
Ruth settled down happily at school * on school stories by Angela B* she was pleased to be with * of her own age. She was quick to learn & good at games, especially gymnastics, presumably from her {42} earlier experience in tree climbing but gradually the restrictions & rules began to be tedious & she longed to be free. Although generally aiming to please, she became something of a revolutionary & found it hard to conform. She grew up individual & *some unsubdued by school regulations. Ada did not encourage conformity, she knew that Ruth would safely stay under Miss Brown’s hand & she had no patience with “silly” regulations about school uniform etc. Which was * macc*filed or vyella shirts & * gym * * mauve dresses for changing into for afternoon games.
Ruth outfit was made as usual by M. Mayerne in one of the flying trips to Paris en route for India. * of navy she had a royal blue coat, * blouses * made of * * & the changing-into dress instead of dull mauve was pale cyclamen crepe de chine with petunia trim – She was sketchily kitted out with regulation liberty bodice & black woollen stockings & pyjamas. Matron had to provide the missing required items including woollen combinations for the winter & * *.
Occasionally a sister would come for visiting day but mostly these like holidays were spent with school friends longing for freedom from the straight jacket of {43} of school regulations. At the same time she longed for permanence – for parents who actually came * * who could be relied on & who provided comfortable suburban homes for their children with thick carpets & eiderdowns & * bathrooms. She was to be at St. Monicas for six years & during that time childhood was finally left behind.
42R
Epilogue at Morgenau
The years passed & although Ruth was supposed to be delicate it was Griffith who succumbed to a bout of pneumonia. Poor nanny as if she did not have enough on her shoulders. For the cherished heir, the only boy in a family of 5 girls & he to get so ill that he nearly died. Nanny & Ruth sat by the big fire in the bedroom (all the coal had to be hauled up from the yard but the child had to be kept warm) & several* jackets for him made of cotton wool & an old sheet. Nanny kept guard on the poor child who steadily * & his tortured breathing filled the room – is he going to die? Asked Ruth terrified. Nothing* * it replied nanny. The doctor, * *, came every day in his pony trap or on a bicycle through the dark evenings then one evening as the sky darkened & owls hooted in the fir plantation ne * stood beside Griffith’s* bed as the child’s breathing eased & he opened his eyes “Good” pronounced the doctor, the fever has broken & the crisis is past, he will live & now we must do everything to get him better, Nanny did not take her clothes off for many days & was dead tired. Her devotion undoubtedly saved Griffith’s life & he made a quick recovery, but the strain had been too much for nanny. She could cope no longer & Gwladys had to be sent for. She was working at a hospital at Eta*les & the commandant * reluctant to let her go. We can’t spare {43R} You as more casualties are expected daily. Permission to leave is refused.
All G’s innate stubbornness & determination came welling up, she stuck out her chin* & said “I must be relieved Ma’am – I have to look after my small brother & sister who need me. I have to go with the weight of responsibility * * too soon * & life called on. That autumn it looked as if the was was over – Armistice was declared & everyone to * to join in the rejoicing. There were bands & choirs flag waving & all the lights wee lit. All the children * about & people hu*ed each other & shouted & sang. But there were sad faces that evening for many of the young men who had gone so cheerfully to war had died in that dreadful carnage. Years later it was all to start up again, the waste, the grief, the agonies, will they never learn.
Meanwhile mother & father were stuck in India & would not get home until spring. The children’s full* life continued – they ran about in the day & well muffled up in the evenings. Chestnuts were roasted in a brass box with a long handle which was * on the burning logs. Ludo, snakes & ladders were played & hoops made. Ruth was shown how to knit. There was never any shortage of food. Butter meat* {44R} & * & eggs came from the farm & there were mushrooms & blackberries in season.
Old William* Daniels still tended the garden as well as he could so there were vegetables. There was a shortage of all tinned food which had to be bough on coupons & the greatest treat was a tin of peaches or a tin of sardines.
She became mother’s confidential friend during her bad times. She put up with the rages, menopausal difficulties p* with calmness & good sense. She had beautiful handwriting & would write many of mother’s letters for her.
{45} Alice Saunders, daughter of a butcher in Cambridge* had trained as a nurse which was why she came to look after Ruth. Round faced & red cheeked with a bun of black hair striated* with grey. She was a comely woman. Mother called her Saunders or nurse & to the family she was Nan or Nanny. She was much loved by everyone. She devoted her whole life to the family & took everything that happened in her stride with patience & humour. She was really a saint. It was rumoured that she had had a young man who had gone to the war & been killed. She never married. As the children grew older & went off to school she would go to other people who needed her – She nursed Annette’s grandfather through his terminal illness. ( he * * in his will) & was always sent for when anyone needed help. She was to nurse Phyllis when she died as a result of a disastrous riding accident & to go to Griffith’s young wife to nurse & help* with his first born son David – a tragically defective child due to his mother contracting German measles during her pregnancy. In the Second World War she was to stay with Ruth when her husband was away serving with the Royal Navy. Nanny would listen to her anxieties & comfort her while brushing her long red hair as she had always done all her life when Ruth was a child.
{46} That last summer before the outbreak of the first world war life was normal in an English country house. Father walked around his garden & farm whacking at things with a stout* ash stick & poking at his pigs. He was leading the life he had always wanted – mother was busy organising the household, writing innumerable letters, making plans for the girls & instructing the dress maker. The girls frolicked* around & laughed & flirted with the young people of the neighbouring big houses.
Ruth loved to be with her mother * by her big desk in the bay window of the * in the sunshine – the bees* hummed* in the – hedge below the window. Mother used up many stamps which came in * books. As she finished each book it would be thrown into the WPB* & Ruth* would retrieve it, * the small books & hoping to find a stamp or two which had been overlooked.
In the summer evenings she would be in her mother’s bedroom as the sun set behind the * beech tree on the lawn “helping” her dress for dinner. Her favourite dress was of * * coloured satin with a lace fichu & Ruth would chose for her a diamond star to wear on her breast.
Sometimes the children would be allowed into the dining room for dessert. The long oak table was laid with china & glass & silver candlesticks. The walls were half panelled in oak & painted royal [blue] {47} Above & there were long * velvet curtains. * * & left drawn * * * *.
Ruth wearing a * dress of net & lace (which still survives* in 1990) with pale olive * sash & * necklace. Would sit on her father’s knee her head * * * aim that * * * spread on his shirt * He fed her with * * *. Griffith wearing corduroy shorts & a frilled* white shirt sat proudly up * on his mother’s right reaching out for everything in sight. The older girls thought all this ridiculous “You’re greedy Griff they said & look at Baby making big eyes”. The *ing was not altogether harmonious* - there were tensions & jealousies which sharpened the experience & brilliantly *ed these moments which were to remain as a lasting memory. Perhaps a melancholy a miasma* of what was to come hung as a veil above the room. It was soon time to go. Mother & father to sail for India where they would be stuck for the duration of the war, the carefree young men who would go to war & most of whom [would] be killed & the girls to be thrust quickly into the rigorous* * of VAD life * * unexpected * * of war.
The house would remain * set facing east & west, most of the rooms would be shrouded in dust sheets – mother’s * china ornaments would be put away in cupboards, the garden would gradually be over grown. {48}Only the farm remained * * depleted.
The young children with the heart touching acceptance of what is imposed upon them were left. Nanny Saunders was put in charge & was to make possible the paradise years. The parents never expected that the war would last so long or conditions become so extreme that the burden they had laid on nanny’s shoulders would eventually heavy to be bourn. The lamp boys went off to join up, the housemaids to the munitions factories, there was no cook in the kitchen, no men to carry the coals & light the lamps or chop the wood, no electricity or telephone & * was *.
Due to the farm & kitchen garden there was no shortage of food & because there was no one to supervise a * the children were left almost completely free to go where they willed, to make they own ploys*, became somewhat eccentric perhaps & resourceful* independent* completely absorbed with each other & cushioned from the darkest aspects of the war by nanny’s abiding love & * happy years in the garden of Eden.

Transcribed from a manuscript written by Ruth in the early 1990s

Return to Archive Index
Return to Ruth Stevens Howard
Return to Pugh Family History
Return to Annette Lawford