Story of a Rolls and some goats...
the end of the second world war a colourful, perhaps eccentric, character,
a Mrs Muriel Oates Morris, was among those associated with the Ringstead
She it was who had a vintage Rolls Royce, with a spare wheel on its side, which she believed could go to King's Lynn and back on one imperial gallon of petrol. It ran out and she was compelled to stand by the side of the road and hitch a lift for the rest of the journey.
Verification of this tale comes from Mrs Vera Knight, a former clerk
|to both the Ringstead and Docking Parish Councils and at one time a member of
Docking Rural Council. Mrs Knight retired to Bournemouth but at the age of
91, when she spoke to the author in 1998, retained a clear memory of
Ringstead just after the second world war.
One former villager, Mr Eric Archer, who in 1998 was 65 and living in Dersingham, recalls the Rolls Royce finally met its end when the engine blew up at Dersingham. This was because during a time of petrol shortage Mrs Morris tried to eke out her supply by adding paraffin!
Back to nature...
|Thousands of people
walk on Courtyard Farm, Ringstead every year - and they are encouraged to
By the year of writing (2003) the farm had become completely organic and was able to market delicious and healthy beef, lamb and pork. Those who, as they walked, watched the farm's transformation revelled in the growing abundance of insects, wild flowers and plants.
Over the years chemical sprays and artifical fertilisers had nationally taken a terrible toll of all forms of wildlife and the native plants and insects on which it depends.
|On Courtyard, thanks
to the vision of Lord Peter Melchett, the trend has been reversed. He
writes: "Skylarks have increased fourfold, hares threefold and there
are five times as many English partridges."
And the regular visitor will tell you of foxes, deer, badgers, stoats, weasels, jays, magpies by the dozen and rabbits galore.
Lord Melchett relates "The English partridges at the farm reached their low point of just 16 birds during the 1980s. We started to go organic in the 1990s and the number climbed to forty... in spring 2002 we had ninety."
Blacksmith was a dentist...
|Three men made their
way into the village Forge where William Gathercole was waiting.
One held his hand to his face, the other two flexed their muscles.
"Sit here," directed the blacksmith, indicating a huge, wooden block. "Which tooth is hurting?"
Held firmly by his two companions, the "patient" submitted to the extraction of his aching molar with forge-made pliers and paid his penny.
If it had been Sunday the charge would have been two pennies, for the rule was a penny a tooth except on
|Sundays - and all the money went to the Methodist Chapel funds!
William Gathercole's successor as blacksmith was also a devout Methodist. John Kidd held virtually every "office" at the village chapel. Mr Gathercole, who had no children, GAVE him the business, and with it one hundred gold sovereigns - a considerable sum in those days.
His son, Jack, who lives in Northgate, Hunstanton, could still vividly remember in August, 1999, stories of when the Forge doubled up as a dentist's surgery.
Norfolk farmer need fear no rival...
ignorance plus impudence commend me to a Norfolk farmer! He need fear no
rival in either."
So wrote headmistress of Ringstead School, Rosa Beck in the year 1890, exasperated by the absence of her pupils either opening gates or scaring crows for the local farmers.
"His labourer (from which class, by the way, the farmer has invariably sprung), runs him close, but never quite equals him."
Miss Beck notes: "Attendance committees are mostly composed of ignorant illiterate persons who are afraid that a child should pass Standard 1V as he would then know more than themselves."
It was on February 9th, 1885 that Miss Beck assumed charge of Ringstead School, when the pupils numbered around 70 but
particularly around harvest time, was very poor and irregular.
The school logs reveal that, from the very beginning in 1865, a battle between the teachers and the local residents over the education of their children was ongoing.
If it was not the failure of the children to bring their "pence" then it was because the parents kept them home to take father's lunch or to help with the younger children.
In harvest it was to open gates and help with the leading of the horses.
When Rosa Beck took charge, she observed: "Children very backward, discipline very bad."
Was Bertie Wooster created here?
Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (1881-1975), creator of Jeeves in the Bertie
Wooster stories stayed at Hunstanton Hall in the 1920s.
Writing from there in June, 1926, he says: "The address does not mean that I have bought a country estate. It is a joint belonging to a friend of mine, and I am putting in a week or two here.
It is one of those enormous houses, about two thirds of which is derelict... I spend most of my time on the moat, which is really a sizable lake, and I am writing this in the punt...beside me is a brick wall with
date 1623 on it.
Writing from the Hall the next year he indicates he has just finished
53, 000 words of "Money for Nothing."
Then in April ,1929 he's at the Hall "writing a Jeeves story in response to an urgent demand from America" for publication in "Cosmopolitan."
"I think I like Hunstanton as well in winter as in summer... I laid the scene of 'Money for Nothing' at Hunstanton Hall."
He goes on to commend Hunstanton Library.
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