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MEMORIES OF RAYNE
Helen was born in The Cherry Tree pub (now The Welsh Princess) in 1910 and had one brother and three sisters. Her father was the youngest of twelve children and bought the Cherry Tree as a private house - there used to be a pub next door (where the car park is today) but it was pulled down and the house converted to a pub (which has since changed its name to The Welsh Princess). Helen's daughter is tracing their family tree and has gone back to the 14th century. On another side they go back to the Vikings.
The Cherry Tree
A very busy pub with an extremely hectic life. It was the busiest pub in the village and a number of people used to walk there from Braintree in the evenings. In Foundry Meadow at the back of the pub they used to hold football matches which Helen could watch from her bedroom window. They also used to hold shows where there were tents, flower shows and poultry etc. on August Monday. They were so busy in the pub that her father had to put up trestle tables in another room and the pub was always crowded out. They had a large barn in the field and stabling for six horses. They kept three or four cows and Helen's father would get up at 5am each morning to milk the cows. In addition to running the pub her father had a milk round with a pony and cart and used to go round the village with the milk churns and half pint and pint measures. If a cow was calving, her parents would stay up all night and her mother would make a hot bran meal for the cow. They also kept a range of poultry.
Helen's mother used to make cheese and butter (they supplied every pub in Braintree with butter). She used to wrap the butter in rhubarb leaves to keep it fresh. They also used to sell butter, cream and cheese at the back door of the pub. They all used to go to bed late as after the pub closed at 10pm they had to wash up the glasses and mugs and clear up. When Helen's father died in in 1926 her mother kept on the pub for three years, then her brother took it on for another three years.
World War I
During the war the regular army used to march through the village on the way from Colchester, some soldiers on foot, some on horseback, some with horses drawing the gun carriages. Rayne was a stopping point en route and at the Cherry Tree they would stable six of the army's horses; they would un-harness the horses from the gun carriages to rest them at the pub. Six of the soldiers were also billeted at the pub, however when the children of the house caught scarlet fever, the soldiers had to be removed and a guard, with fixed bayonet, marched up and down in front of the pub to prevent any soldiers going inside. The children went to the isolation hospital in Cressing Road, Braintree to recover from the scarlet fever.
Started at 5 years old. Teachers were Miss Ketley and Mrs Yuill (headmaster Mr Yuill). Was taught needlework and knitting and they used to do PE in the playground as there were no facilities for sports. Used to come home daily for lunch.
Intermediate School, Braintree
Seven children from Rayne School, including Helen, went to the Intermediate School the day it opened on 22nd January 1922. She left when she was nearly sixteen. The Rayne children had to walk home from school - in the dark during the winter and the girls used to be scared stiff in the dark if they did not have the boys escorting them. The river used to flood frequently and Mr Hutley would bring his horse and cart and come through the water to bring them across. If he was not there, they had to walk through the fields by the railway line.
Helen could not get a job when she left school, so her mother bought some day-old chicks which she reared and then sold at market; she also hatched ducks which she sold at market at ten weeks old. Then she got a job for a few months at Fuller's shoe shop before going to the Co-op for a 3-year apprenticeship as a milliner. She used to cycle to work in Braintree.
World War II
As Helen was not working in what was considered a useful occupation she had to report to help the war effort. She had the choice of working in a factory or in the land army. She cycled to the reporting office by 6am each day where a lorry would pick up the girls and take them round the farms where they would work on various jobs. When she married in 1943 she was told that she would have to get a job working in agriculture locally so she went to Rand's for eighteen months to work in the greenhouses growing tomatoes and lettuces etc. One day a German rocket landed in Chelmsford and they were all terrified as the blast shook all the glass in the greenhouses. She left there the day the war ended.
Helen attended Rayne Church all her life, she was a Sunday School teacher, helped with the flowers and was an active member of the Mothers' Union.
|© Geoffrey Stone, Braintree 14-1-2008 Last Update 17-1-2008|