Mrs Annie Lavender (nee Edge) – known as ‘Nancy Lavender’

 

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‘Nancy’ – summer 2014

Annie (known as ‘Nancy’) Edge was the youngest daughter of Thomas and Sarah Jane Edge (nee Beech). Her mother was born near Winsford, whilst her father was born in Burwardsley. Her parents were married by Reverend Colston on 12 June 1905 in St Alban’s Church, Tattenhall.

Before her marriage to Thomas Edge, Sarah Jane is listed on the 1901 Census as a servant to Frederick and Mary Kinsey on their farm, located in Tattenhall Lanes (albeit that her occupation also states that she was a Nurse and Domestic). Sarah Jane’s husband, Thomas, was a Farm Labourer at the time of their marriage. The children born to Thomas and Sarah Jane Edge were George, Thomas, Wilfred, Mary Jane, Ellen, Levi and Annie. 

We decided to interview Nancy purely by chance. Whilst at the War Memorial during Remembrance Sunday 2012, we observed Nancy looking intently at the plaque related to the victims of WWII. We learned that Nancy was the younger sister of Levi Edge, the story of whom is to be found in the ‘Casualties of WWII’ section of the Website. Nancy, now aged 94 (summer 2014), was born in Newton Lane Cottages, Tattenhall, and spent the first 20 years of her life in the village. We ‘tracked her down’ and asked her to share her memories with us.

Nancy was born on Independence Day, 4 July, 1920. She was christened, confirmed and married in St Alban’s Church. Her parents were also married in St Alban’s Church and both are buried in the Churchyard.

Annie’s father worked at the Boneworks on Tattenhall Road. One week he worked ‘days’ and then the next week he did ‘nights’. (This is the first interview that has mentioned the night shifts at the Boneworks i.e. 6pm-6am). He used to cycle there and back. I remember my mother putting his slippers on the hearth so that they were warm. He used to bring the jellies and gelatine home – we didn’t like them very much.

As far as I know the whole family went to school in the village. My father was in the Great War 1914-1918 – he was a Sgt in the Army before he finished.  I walked to school every day – all those miles as a 5 year old! I had dinner in school because I couldn’t walk back in time. I do remember the Headmaster who lived in the schoolhouse (Mr Oldfield). Mr Bond was at the other school – the bottom school. Mr Bond had a daughter ‘Nancy’ Bond.

I went to the top school between the ages of 5-11 – it was a dark and dingy looking place. We played in the yard – skipping, jumping about and tick, ball on the wall and rounders. The kids had more pleasure than they do today – well I think so. We made our own games when we were younger. The bottom end school 11-14 was much brighter.

I remember the Boys Home on the High Street – I remember seeing the Boys marching towards the schools – they always looked very smart. There were a lot of boys there. I often wondered how they were really treated in the Boys Home – they weren’t treated well outside. I spoke to them – they did mix with us. We were always told that they were ‘naughty boys’ – whether that was true or not I don’t know.

When we were at the top school, we used to go for a day out to Bolesworth Castle and always went in a horse and cart. It was very much fun. We had to stand. The horse was all decorated and the cart too. It had railings built around it so that we wouldn’t fall out. We stood all the way – that way there was more room. The poor horse dragged us all! We all had outside games at the Castle and a boat trip on the Lake – it was a summer Tea Party. We had tea and games of all sorts and the parcel and racing. There was mugs all over the place in different parts of the gardens – great big mugs with yellow on the inside and brown on the outside – The Buckley Mugs – you could help yourself to water, lemonade or orange juice. We spent the whole day up there – the ‘Barbours’ looked after us very well and we always looked forward to that outing Everyone was given a parcel with cakes and sweets to take home – it was a wonderful day out.

When Nancy recalled that she had spent summer Tea Parties at Bolesworth, I contacted Diana Barbour who not only located the Bolesworth Scrap Books to substantiate Nancy’s story but invited Nancy and her daughter, Sandra, to afternoon tea. The following extract is from the Scrap Books dated 1925 (at which time Nancy would have been 5 years old and attending the National School.

…. The day school children were invited to Bolesworth on Friday September 4th 1925 for their annual treat. Major and Mrs Barbour were more lavish than ever in the manner in which the teachers and children were entertained. We take this opportunity of congratulating Major Barbour on being appointed High Sheriff of Cheshire. Major and Mrs Barbour celebrated the occasion by entertaining their friends and tenantry in truly regal fashion. The rejoicings were kept up for 4 days one week and 3 days the following week. They were brought to a conclusion on September 4th when the day school teachers and children had a glorious time at Bolesworth. There were games galore – cricket, football, croquet, bowls, swings and other attractions which kept the children busy all the afternoon. They had a capital tea, and buns and chocolate just before leaving for Tattenhall. Major Barbour was greatly interested in the doings of the Tattenhall children and wished them every success. Before taking their seats in the conveyances kindly lent by the farmers to take them to and from Bolesworth, the children gave Major and Mrs Barbour 3 very hearty cheers. The children will long remember the generosity and kindness of their host and hostess.

Nancy enjoying afternoon tea at reminiscing with Diana Barbour of Bolesworth Estate and D Clegg who lived at Gatesheath Hall

‘Nancy’ (centre) who kindly accepted Diana Barbour’s invitation to ‘afternoon tea’ and a ‘jolly good reminisce’ – Thursday 4 September 2014. Also present was Didi Clegg (left) who brought along photograph albums relating to Gatesheath Hall where Nancy had worked as a House Maid between the ages of 14-20. Didi was resident at Gatesheath Hall for many years being the widow of the late James Clegg and daughter-in-law of Rosemary Clegg.

We also had the Wakes – that was nice. You had a stick with flowers on it – a flower wand. My father used to make my flower wand with all sorts of things and you carried it all the way to the village – you paraded down the village with the band and went to the Barbour Institute. The Institute was used a lot at that time for different things. There were prizes for the best wand and Nancy Bond always won and we always said she won because she was the Headmaster’s daughter.

The best shop on the High Street was Bateman’s shop – it was a very good shop. My father got new coats for myself and for my sister for my mother’s funeral at Bateman’s – tweed coats they were – black and white. We both had black hats and something white on the front. The women belonging to the family were all in the cab following the coffin and the men all walked behind; all the way to the village which was a long way from Newton Cottages. I can remember that in my mind.

I also remember Salt’s shop – it was more or less on the opposite side to where the Boys Home was – on the corner of Church Bank. There was a Post Office there – I used to put my money in there when I went to work.

I started full time work just after my mother died – I was 14 in the July and my mother died in the October. I had no job. I left school at 14 – one day Mrs Clegg from Gatesheath Hall stopped her car and asked whether we would care for a lift – Mrs Clegg said she was looking for someone – Mrs Clegg asked my mother whether I would be able to work for her. Mrs Clegg started me on morning work 7am-dinner time – if I wanted to stay for lunch I could. I worked mornings all through September and came home with a £1 note. I thought I was so well off – £1 note for the month! I was cleaning, hoovering, making beds – no dirty work. All the work was inside and I was ‘The Under House Maid’. So, I had a good job and the place was centrally heated with their own generator – it was very warm. There were pipes going round the skirtings. In all the bedrooms too. We had to do the cleaning and I had another girl with me who was the ‘Head House Maid’ – her name was Olwen Burns.

Mr Clegg worked in Liverpool as a stockbroker. He wasn’t a Liverpool man – he was from Delamere. Went to Liverpool daily in the car – it was a big black Lagonda car – Mrs Clegg drove a Swift – a little yellow two seater thing with black upholstery. When she said to my mother would you care for a lift – I sat in the back on the hood because she had the hood down – I was like a perched rabbit. I was only 14.

There was a cook, 3 in the kitchen and the Butler and Parlour Maid and Nanny and Nursery Maid and myself and the Head House Maid. There was a gardener – Billy Dodd – he worked there for a long time. He was the Head Gardener and there was one under him. There was a person called William Ashbrook who was the Chaffuer. There was another man looking after the horses – he was the groom – I think his name was ‘Burrell’. Mrs Clegg had two children Josephine and James. Her name was Rosemary Mead Clegg. Mr Clegg’s name was Neville James Clegg. They came from the Delamere area.

It was a beautiful place altogether. There was a main hall with coal fires in every room with large brick lined fire grates – you could look up the chimneys because they were so big. The Smoke Room, I don’t know if they ever went in there to smoke; a large Drawing Room for parties – they would roll up the carpets and dance on the floor. The Dining Room was big with a lovely staircase going up – Mrs Clegg had red carpet. The kitchen was downstairs; the Butler’s Pantry and a passage way going up the back part. There was a massive attic with horrible antlers on the wall, horrible things – I used to be frightened of them. Our bedrooms and our bathroom – hot and cold water and a toilet – no going outside to the toilet. There were 3 bedrooms up there – one for myself and the Head Housemaid, one for the Kitchen Maid and Scullery Maid and one other.

After my mother died in the October, Mrs Clegg went to see my father and she asked him whether he would like me to live in – he jumped at the chance. He didn’t like leaving me in the house in Newton when he was on the night shift at the Boneworks.

So, I lived in. My room was beautiful – centrally heated – top floor. We had a wardrobe and dressing table and I slept with another young girl and she had her own wardrobe and dressing table too. Mrs Clegg was really marvellous – she paid for me – I had flu – all the staff seemed to go down with the flu one after the other. She looked after every one of us. I had it for about 3 weeks and she came up all those flights of stairs – it worried her. She had her own doctor out to see to me – from Tarporley. She didn’t stop it out of my wages. I got over the flu and then I had a discharging ear – one of the staff told Mrs Clegg and she said ‘I want to see you Nancy’ – we went into the Drawing Room – she said ‘why haven’t you told me’. So she got her own doctor out and I had to go to the Infirmary Hospital in Chester and they treated me. A bit later on she had all that to pay for – she didn’t stop it out of my wages. Then she had my teeth seen to – at her White Friars Dentist. Then later on, she sent me to Rhyl Convalescent Home for 1 month because I had got very run down. She said to me when I was getting married that she felt that she had brought me up. She was a really really nice lady.

My boyfriend (as he was then) came to see me at Rhyl although he wasn’t supposed to. The Matron said – ‘no going into shops when you go out for a walk – big shops like Woolworths – because that is where all the germs are – keep outside in the fresh air’. So that it what we had to do.

Mrs Clegg was a decent person to work for and we had very good food. Good breakfasts. We were up early in the mornings but she saw we were in bed early between 9-10pm. When they had a spell of parties we were up until quite late at night – she said she wanted the younger girls in bed by 9pm.

I was 20 when I left Gateheath Hall. Mrs Clegg wanted me to stay on after I married and have my room as a bedsitter. My husband said it was too far for him to travel to work. He worked in Ellesmere Port – he cycled from the Lache to Ellesmere Port every day. He was on shift work at the Iron Works at Ellesmere Port.

Mrs Clegg didn’t want me to leave – the war started, I didn’t want to go into the forces and I didn’t want to work on a farm – I got married. My husband was Richard Lavender – we were married in Tattenhall in 1940. I was 20. For my wedding, Mrs Clegg gave me a cheque and she gave me lovely blankets, sheets and a bedcover. The girls themselves between them gave me a full breakfast, dinner and tea set. It was really nice – cream with a red rim round it. We also had presents every Christmas, even if it was material to make something.

So, Mrs Clegg lost me – she came to me in the Lache and asked if I would like to go and see her. I said I would love to see the girls too. So she picked me up and took me to the see the girls that I had worked with.

She had to give the place (Gatesheath Hall) up to soldiers and evacuees. The place went to rack and ruin. Some of the evacuees were from Liverpool and I don’t know how many soldiers came to Gateheath. I went to see her when I visited my father – she said, I’m sorry about the house – the floors were spoiled and she had lovely polished floors and it was done for with their feet. I felt sorry for her – she was ill for a long time afterwards. One of the cooks Margaret Newall from Burwardsley – she said Mrs Clegg had been very poorly and upset from all the people in the house.

I sometimes went to the railway station near the Boneyard because it was nearer to my house. Then the buses started – Maddocks buses – and I used to get the bus. Maddocks bus stopped outside my house – door to door.

I don’t actually know that much about Levi. He was on the farms working – had a bit of a fall out with my dad. He then joined the Army, although he also knew my husband. In the first instance he was missing presumed drowned. I think my father got a telegram.

The Cleggs of Gateheath Hall

The Cleggs were obviously a successful and wealthy family, living at Gatesheath Hall.

Joseph Neville Clegg married Rosemary Mead Joynson in 1928.

In the 1930s alone, they are listed twice on passenger manifests in sailing to Canada.

On the first occasion (29 May 1931) they left from Liverpool bound for Montreal. Accompanying them was Joseph Neville Clegg’s retired father ‘William Clegg’ aged 61.

At that time the family were all resident at Eaton Bank, Tarporley. They sailed on the D/York owned by the Canadian Pacific Line.

Then in August 1937 they were bound for Canada again. On this occasion, Joseph and Rosemary Clegg travelled alone, sailing on the Empress of Britain to Quebec from the Port of Southampton.

Rosemary Mead Clegg is buried in St Alban’s 1903-1992.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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