Mrs Checkley

We first came to Chesham from London in 1899, from a big three-storey house. I was born in Royston.

We lived in a little cottage. Two or 3 brothers were born here. There were 8 of us children altogether, l was the oldest girl. At first we lived at the other end of the Moor & had to get our drinking water from the well.

I went to the Infants school against Lord’s Mill. We used to call it Miss Birch’s school because she was the Headmistress. She lived in the house adjacent.We went to school 9-12, and then had to run home for lunch, and then run back again. Wherever we went, we had to run.

We had several good teachers; it was a happy time. I was in a play Red Riding Hood. I was given the woodman’s part. I asked my brother, who’d just had a new suit, if I could borrow it to wear. I was about 14. (He was killed in the War).

I was ill in hospital for about 9 weeks. I was rather delicate. Afterwards we moved to halfway up Eskdale Avenue. I had to run up the hill every day to expand my lungs.

I’d always wanted to be a nurse, but I worked in Darvell’s for a while. Doctor said I wouldn’t be able to stick it (nursing) as it would be too hard. I went to Hillingdon for 3 months on trial. I went to Uxbridge Station tramcar to Hillingdon, then across fields. There were 2 nurses to meet the train for safety. The train to London cost half-a-crown (7½ pence) return.

Photo of the Hinton Baptist church, now Trinity Church
Hinton Baptist Church

We used to go to Hinton Baptist, now it’s called Trinity Church. I was asked to join Hinton choir. We used to give concerts in the villages, on wagonettes.

I remember when King Edward died, my friend & I used to sing, I was a contralto. We went to Wendover. Jack Wright took us in his pony & trap. I had a big straw hat with poppies on it. There was a thunderstorm & we got very wet. We should have been going to sing at Amersham but it was too wet.

We used to go to meetings at the Temperance Hall; we had to be teetotal. All my friends were at the church. We had a very happy time. We had a Sunday school. We bought Zion Hall when they gave that up & we used that when we need a bigger place, for concerts & bazaars.

There was a cattle market in the High Street & Broadway, on Wednesdays. Farmers came in from the surrounding farms. They brought business into the town & ale in local eating places. Darvells had a tea shop. There was a high-class dress shop at the bottom of Station Road, the Misses Catting ran it.

Before buses, horse-drawn carriers brought villagers into town & goods out. Webbs brushes & several smaller ones employed all the young people. They used to come to our church, that’s how I know them.

Beechwoods was only a small place when 1 was young. There used to be watercress all along Waterside. There was a little factory near the bridge, it made jewellery. It did ever such a good trade, made all the jewellery that went abroad. One of our top men at the Church worked there all his life.

A lot of people from Townfield Yard alley were moved up to Pond Park. They were all very poor people. We used to run up the steps, we daren’t walk in case the people came out, we were afraid of them. They keep building up there; it was just a hill then.

Mrs Brandon (she used to be a Rose) was the first Lady Mayoress, we had their house. Henry Rose used to keep his sheep where the football ground is. We use to take ginger beer & help cut the hay.

Mr Lowndes used to live in the Bury. He was very good to the poor. They only had to pay sixpence a week for those cottages (The ‘Sixpenny Cottages’). He used to help people without many people knowing about it. We used to have fetes & fireworks all around his estate. I used to look forward to that.

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