Tuffy remembers....

The following are extracts from – “Tuffy remembers….”.

The complete story - pdf. format - may be downloaded here

“Tuffy remembers….. by Pauline Peters (née Warburton).......

recalling her childhood at THE MEADOWS.


“The Meadows” is situated at West Bilney within sight of the Main A47 Norwich Road. For nearly 60 years it was home to my family and the memories we have of them and it are precious. First of all let me introduce you to them:-

Great Grandmother, Ellen (Jana) (nee Fairbanks) b. 1887 died 1975 married Henry (Totty) Adams.

Granny came from Poad Hole in Lincolnshire, from a large family. She was in service when she met Henry who hailed from East Winch but was a signal man on the railways near to her place of work.

After their marriage they lived in East Winch in a small cottage, one of a row opposite the Carpenters Arms Public House. During the First World War he joined the Norfolks but was badly injured in 1916 and invalided out with an honourable discharge. Ellen nursed him but he died in 1920. The war by then had been over for 2 years and Gran did not receive a war pension, this meant the family were practically destitute and had to rely on money from the Parish Poor fund to bury Henry. He was buried at East Winch but I have never found his grave.


Nellie was my Granny and deserves story all of her own which I shall commit to paper after I have finished The Meadows.

Berenice married Alan Warburton. A Yorkshire man, he hailed from Bradford. They met when his regiment, The Seaforth Highlanders, were stationed at West Bilney Hall and were married at Pentney Church in 1944.

They in turn had one daughter, Pauline Angela, born 1946 (Tuffy), and went to live in East Winch. Berenice died in 1962 at the age of 34. Alan remarried and died in 2008 aged 83

Tots married Leslie Ruskin (Luggy) and lived on the marsh at Terrington St Clement until after the war when they came to Pentney to take over the King William (King Billy) pub on Low Road. They had one son, Philip (Fip) who tragically lost an arm in a farm accident when very young. He married Sylvia had 3 children & died in 2012.

Ellen & Henry had four daughters.

Ellen Mary (Nellie) born 1908 - died 1984

Ida Dorothy (Tots) Born 1910? - died 1978?

Ethel Florence (Sally) born 1912 - died 1976

Frances Kathleen (Kath or Whippet) born 1917 - died 2009.

Nellie married Algernon (Joe) Wilson, (b 1905 died 1985) from Pentney, when she was 18. They lived in the village until their respective deaths in 1984 & 1985.They had one daughter, Berenice (Teddy).

Sally married John (Jack) Dye (b 1905 d 1979.), who was one of large family from Bilney. They too lived at the Meadows until 1966 when they left to go to Pentney. Sally died in 1976 .She had never worked, although she kept a few chickens at the Meadows and sold the eggs for fag, money!!!! The only job she ever had was during the war was when she went to join her Mother working on the land. If she had not she would have been conscripted into the services, which would not have suited her at all!! They had no children.

My grandmother, Nellie, could remember her own Grandmother, her Fathers mother, Granny Adams. She lived in one of a row of cottages, now demolished, opposite the old village shop. She wore a long black dress with a lace collar and a black apron in the day. Her hair severely parted under a white mob cap was kept in order by a dousing of home cured lard, which she kept in the bedroom in an oyster shell covered with a lace cloth. Her long bloomers were “split arsed”, or separate legged, tied at the back with laces. She also remembered some of her Uncles “Tiny” Adams who was even taller than Totty; he immigrated to Australia. “Gentleman Jack” Adams worked for a stock broker in London as a butler and always came visiting in a bowler hat.


There was no school in East Winch then so this meant a 4 mile walk to Ashwicken where the School Mistress, Miss Bolt, arrayed in a long black dress, was in charge. You started school as young as 3½ and left to go to work at 14.


The family moved to The Meadows when Nellie was about 9. The cottage was divided into 2 dwellings consisting of one room downstairs and 2 bedrooms upstairs. This meant that there were 2 adults and 4 children in 2 bedrooms. When the youngest sister was born there was no money, or room, for a cot, instead she was nestled into the big wicker linen basket until she grew too big for it.


Church played a big role in all their lives. Prior to the first World War her Father, Henry had cleaned the church and tolled the bell on Sundays. His widow took on that task upon his death and Kath used to go with her, when she was a small child to the church and pick out tunes on the harmonium at the north end of the aisle.



Here, for the past 40 years she had lived a God fearing, hard working and blameless life. Her husband had died, in 1920, from wounds received in the First World War but she had raised her 4 daughters, watch them marry and leave home. I thought she was the nearest thing to an angel I would ever know. Next door lived her married daughter Sally and her husband John, my Great Aunt & Uncle. All through the year the whole family would gravitate back to the little cottage be it for Sunday tea, Birthdays and Christmas or just for the pleasure of being there


There was a wash house attached to each cottage which boasted a huge stone copper where on a Monday, after rising at 5am, Gran would set to lighting the fire under the copper, filling it with pails of water and then boiling up the heavy linen sheets, towels etc. A wash board and scrub brush was essential equipment as was a generous supply of Reckitts blue bags to give her whites that extra “glow!” The mangle stood outside the door, with its iron handle and heavy rollers it was a miracle that my 5ft Gran could work such an instrument of torture. She was used to hard work though and every piece of laundry was wrung as dry as possible before it was pegged out on the long linen line in the garden. The two women had separate lines and would always ask permission to peg a few extras on the other one. The tin bath hung on the wall outside. In summer the bathing was done in the wash house but in winter it was in front of the fire.


Most days of the week at least one tradesman called. Coal was delivered from East Winch by Philip Valentine who had a yard opposite the shop. His Mother kept the Post Office there. Aunt Sally had a special coal that did not burn as quickly as she was petrified of fire!! Meat, bread & groceries were all brought to the door too. Each of these tradesmen became friends of the family and as they delivered to all 4 girls would take messages and letters between them. They all stopped for a cup of tea and a chat and often a piece of cake too. How they completed their rounds in the allotted time is a mystery. Groceries were delivered once a week at first by Bessie and Arthur Morton who ran the village shop in Pentney. They were personal friends of the family so there was always plenty to chat about. When they retired Les Caley from Marham took over the deliveries and became a great favourite. Of course everyone was in the Christmas club where you put a few shillings each week, which was recorded on a card and then spent with the grocer or butcher for all the festive necessities. Meat was delivered by Ron the butcher from Kings Lynn and his son Roger. They came on Tuesdays and Fridays to deliver the order that had been placed on their last visit. They always carried further supplies on the van and usually Aunt would be tempted out to buy a few little extras. They too became friends of the family and when my own mother lay terminally ill in bed Ron always left her a piece of salt pork free of charge because he knew it was her favourite. Bread and cakes were also delivered on those days by Neville the baker so it was quite a social whirlwind!!


I was summoned from my world back into the cottage to listen to Mrs Dales Diary. We all got “ terribly worried about Jim” and then Gran and I were ready for tea when it finished about 4.45. Tea was a light meal, sandwiches with freshly cut lettuce and crunchy radishes from the garden. Cake of course and sometimes even tinned peaches with Carnation milk and a slice of bread and butter. While we ate Uncle returned home on his bike. I was not allowed to go next door until they had finished their tea, but once it was over I would rush round and together he and I would walk up to the Dixons farm to collect the water from the well. To do this we had to run the gauntlet of a flock of very ferocious geese that would run after us, heads down hissing. Uncle would swing the galvanised pails at them but we often got nipped. When we returned home he would go into the wash house to wash and shave, singing all the while, and then light a cigarette and stroll to the privy at the back of the house. At one time there were two privies but now they shared one and Uncle had the unenviable task of emptying them. When I was very young my job was to cut up the Daily Mirror into squares and then it would be threaded onto string and hung in the privy. Later we graduated to Izal toilet paper which not only had a peculiar smell but was very slippery. On balance I think the Daily Mirror was preferable. If anyone was caught short in the night there were plenty of chamber pots under each bed.


By then it was time for bed, Aunt returned home to make supper and after a snack I was duly washed and taken up to bed. Here Gran made a burrow in the feathers for me and I was left with Womans Weekly or Red Letter to look at while she went back down stairs to bank down the fire and lock up. When Gran came up it took some time before she had divested herself of the many layers that made up her day to day dress. Under her dress she wore a full length petticoat and then a bust bodice that fastened at the front. Under this was a vest and in winter a spenser and often thermogene as she suffered with her chest. A pink boned corset with suspenders held up her stockings over sensible long legged knickers. A liberal application of Vick was rubbed onto her chest and a Beechams Pill taken before slipping on her winceyette nighty. A thicker hairnet was used to sleep in. “Good night my golden drop and God bless” were always her last words to me.

When she quit the cottage in 1967 the heart went out of the family.

Pauline Peters (nee Warburton) - June 2012.

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The most magical place to me in childhood was “The Meadows “at West Bilney. Here, for a few weeks in the summer holidays I lived an enchanted life, cocooned in love. The first of the 2 semi detatched cottages was occupied by my Great Granny, Ellen Adams, always known to me as “Bilney Gran.”