MEMORIES OF RAYNE
Bettine was born in Bartholomew Green in 1931. Her father had previously lived on Fenton's Farm. During the slump after the first world war the weather was so bad that the sheaves of corn rotted in the fields so that they had a bad harvest, then Bettine's grandmother died so that they had to sell Fenton's Farm and move out when Bettina was one year old and her grandfather went to live with his daughter in Abbess Roding.
Bettine's family was a close knit family as her parents were first cousins and they had relatives living locally.
Bettine said that her grandfather went to shop at Hawkes in The Street on his bicycle, leaving the bike outside the shop propped up against a telegraph pole, then going home, forgetting all about the bicycle. When he went back to Hawkes two days later, the bike was still there where he had left it.
Mr Sibley, who bought the fields around the Mill, had his son build the two semi-detached houses on the corner of Mill Lane - one for himself, Mill House, and the other, Mill Villa, for rent;. Bettine's family paid a rent of 10/- per week for the house until after the war and then Bettine's father bought the house in 1959. The house had no running water until 1959 and had a bucket under the butler sink for drainage. Bettine's father would get up at 3.30am - 4am to light the copper for the weekly wash on Mondays and then on Friday heat the copper again for the weekly bath which would be taken in the zinc bath brought indoors.
The old Mill which was no longer working was just used for storage until it was pulled down and the bricks re-used. In the field beside Bettine's house, there used to be a pond, with willow trees surrounding it.
Bettine's father's first job after leaving school was as a porter at Rayne Station, he then trained as a bricklayer with Wicks & Co. of Braintree after which he then went to work for Brock's the Builder's, before setting up in business on his own as a builder, Bettine's younger brother worked with him. At that time Len Brock owned most of the houses in New Road, living in the end one as well as many other properties in the village.
The trains from Rayne used to run to Bishops Stortford from where you could get a connection to London or Kings Lynn. Bettine remembers waving to her aunt on the train from her bedroom window as the hedges at that time were kept very low. Mr Sibley, senior, their next door neighbour, would get up at 5am every morning and go out to trim the hedgerows.
In the summer during the school holidays, Bettine would go and work in the fields, such as pea-picking, with one of her neighbours. In the late summer they would go blackberrying round the hedgerows.
Sundays were kept special as they would walk for miles after church - to Felsted and back.
Bettine belonged to the Rayne Brownies, then the Guides. Miss Doris Blyth took the Brownies and Girl Guides. She lived in Medley House and one year the girls were allowed to camp on her lawn which they thought great fun.
WORLD WAR I
Bettine's father joined up at the age of 16 and was put into the machine gun corps of the Essex Regiment. He did not need to join up as at that time he was still living on Fenton's Farm and working on the farm which was a reserved occupation. He was posted to France and was also at Ypres in Belgium, although he rarely talked about his wartime experiences. However, he did tell Bettine that the men frequently had to march through France without any water and when they went to the water pumps to obtain water they found that the local women had locked up the pumps so that there was no water available for them - they were so angry that some of the soldiers poisoned the water in some of the wells.
WORLD WAR II
Bettine's father worked for the rescue service during the war.
In the early part of the war everyone had to take their gasmasks with them at all times. One day, Bettine and her friend took their gasmasks in their cardboard boxes with them to pick primroses in one of the ditches at the side of a field when they thought that they had heard an air raid siren from Braintree. So they put on their gas masks and were still wearing them when they arrived back home, clutching their posies of primroses and her father laughed as he said that they must have heard the tractor in the next field instead as the siren had not actually sounded.
Another day, Miss Brewster of Rayne Place heard the air raid warning and went down into her air-raid shelter in the garden and did not hear the all-clear, so was still in her air raid shelter where the gardener found her when he reported for work.
Yet another day, when Bettine's father was working for Miss Powell of Fairy Hall Lane, a Lancaster bomber came low overhead and she fell to the ground as she said that she had had to duck as the aircraft had been flying so low that it came through the hedge.
There were no food shortages in their household as Bettine's father grew all their own vegetables in their garden which had been completely turned over to growing vegetables, but they lived well although they had very little meat.
During the war Bettine used to sleep under the stairs until her parents went to bed and she would then go upstairs with them to her bedroom. They could hear lots of German planes at night.
There were evacuees from London at Rayne School during the war, but when Bettine was 11 years old she then went to the Tabor School in Braintree on a school bus.
AFTER THE WAR
Living away from the centre of the village, Bettine did not get much involved in village life, but in her teens she did go to the Penny Hops which were held in the Old School Room; the motor cycle club was also based there.
When Bettine left school she had to cycle into Braintree to work, cycling home again at mid-day for lunch
After working in the furniture department of the Co-op, Hunnables, Groves, the builder's merchants and the Braintree & Witham Times, Bettine then worked for a for her GP until she married Stan in Felsted Church. After their marriage Stan and Bettine moved to Stan's home county of Worcester, although Bettine would come back to Mill Villa, Rayne, every 6 weeks to keep the garden under control. Kind neighbours who are now friends kept the lawns and the hedges cut and the house aired. In 1982 Stan and Bettine returned to Mill Villa to live as he had a new job at the air base in Wethersfield.
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