MEMORIES OF RAYNE
Phyllis was born in London on 3rd Feb. 1922. She had three older sisters and one brother. Her parents owned several shops in London, but her father's health broke down so was advised by his doctor to move to the country for the benefit of his health. The family moved to Rayne when Phyllis was two years old. They had Manorville Poultry Farm at the top of School Road opposite Hutley's Field. which they bought from Farmer Hutley and later bought another field to extend it. The men of the village used to play football in the field at the weekends, the cows were kept in the field during the week and in the farm buildings at the weekend. Phyllis's father used to look after the goal posts during the week.
The chickens were free range; they were let out in the morning and went into the wooden huts at night. There was a well outside the house and the father used to have a large tank on wheels in which he carried water to the chicken sheds. There were holes in the sheds through which the chickens could put their heads and drink the water from the three buckets outside each of the sheds. Phyllis's father used to scatter corn and maize each day for the chickens. Farmer Mortier was given the chicken manure in exchange for potatoes which were cooked each day with mash so that the chickens had a hot meal to fatten them up. Mr Reynolds used to do the night shift at Lakes then come home and work on the poultry farm, until lunchtime. Phyllis had to work for one or two hours each night on the farm when she came home from the Intermediate school by collecting eggs, topping up the water buckets, cleaning out the sheds and laying down straw for the chickens.
They enjoyed a good standard of living. They lived in a semi-detached house with a large scullery (with a large pantry to keep food fresh), a large dining room, front room and 3 bedrooms. There was a well outside where the milk was put to keep fresh. The main cooking was done on a large range in the kitchen three times a week, but the rest of the cooking was done on an oil stove. Phyllis's father always had bread and milk for his supper. The bedrooms were heated with oil vector heaters and rooms downstairs with open coal fires. There was no electricity for a long time and lighting was by oil lamps. Oil was bought from Moody's of Braintree who used to come round the village to deliver the oil. Phyllis's father fetched six buckets of water each morning for use in the house. He built a copper in a shed which her mother used to light on washdays and do the weekly washing by scrubbing collars, using a blue bag and starch.
In the early days the toilets of the house were bucket toilets which Phyllis's father would empty and tip on top of the chicken manure heaps. For the other houses in the village the buckets were collected on Wednesday nights by Brock's and then emptied.
In the evenings they used to play Ludo - four games for 1d which would go into a tin to pay for extras at Christmas. They used to unwrap sweets very carefully, smooth out the sweet papers and keep them to make Christmas decorations with. Phyllis was taught to play the piano at the age of five and later on played a wind-up gramophone. Life was very strict on Sundays, the children were not allowed to do needlework or knit on Sundays, but helped their father on the farm or went out for walks, gathering flowers in the Spring. The family did not go to church, but the vicar used to visit them on his bike during the week. After coming home from the Intermediate School and finishing her work with the chickens Phyllis would have to do her homework.
Mr & Mrs Turner had a big old-fashioned carriage pulled by a horse in which they delivered groceries every Saturday to the village. They would come round to the back door. Creswell's Bakers came from Braintree at teatime every Friday with a large tray of cakes to choose from. Scott's of Braintree Green used to bring a horse and cart with milk which they ladled out from the milk churns. Mr Fuller, the Rayne butcher, used to come to the door for orders then delivered the meat on a bicycle. Mr Bowtell, the grocer from Braintree came round on Tuesday for orders which were delivered by van on Wednesday.
Hawkes had a large shop where they sold everything - papers, toys, tablecloths and food. Three male shop assistants wearing long white aprons served customers. (This shop is currently the Indian Raj restaurant). They had jars of sweets and sold ½d bags of mixed sweets, such as aniseed balls and chocolate, to the children. Sugar and dried fruits were stored in large glass containers; everything had to be scooped out and weighed, then put into paper which the assistants made into bags.
Pasfield's sold groceries and birthday cards.
Mrs Channel owned a haberdashery shop. Barnard's Garage used to charge accumulators for wirelesses.
After the Post Office moved from The Laurels, it became an Old People's Home. When Phyllis was eleven, she used to go to The Laurels to make toast on the range (they would lodge a slice of bread in front of the grate to toast) for tea for the old people.
Phyllis started Rayne School at five in Miss Ketley's class where the children used to play with toys in the first year. Later they used to make raffia bags which were hung on a shelf and those children who had been good throughout the year had the bags filled with sweets by Father Christmas at Christmas time. Many children were extremely poor so the sweets were a real treat for them.
The girls were taught needlework and knitting which was displayed at the Sunday School Fete every summer together with writing and other school work. All the children had to make a tea cosy.
BRAINTREE INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL
Phyllis passed the entrance exam to the Intermediate School at the age of eleven. She wore a navy gymslip and white blouse in winter with a special hat and a gingham dress with a panama hat in the summer.
Mr Warner was the Station Master at Rayne Station and lived in the accommodation above the station. In the summer many of the villagers would go to the station to go on the day excursions to Clacton etc. On Wednesdays people would take the train to Braintree for the weekly market. If mothers took prams they had to travel in the guard's van with the pram..
WORLD WAR II
During the war soldiers were billeted on the villagers of Rayne. Phyllis's future husband was billeted on her sister in the village which was how they met. He was a regular soldier in the R.A.S.C., but he was sent abroad and spent most of the war as a Prisoner of War in Germany. They married on 15th March, 1945. After their wedding they moved to Birmingham, but Phyllis was homesick, so they sold their house in Birmingham and returned to Braintree, then Rayne to live.
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