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{$text['mgr_brown1']} Eldridge 8

Married life

by Winifred Mary Eldridge


This is the final part of the reminiscences of Winifred Curtis, Richard's mother. The first three articles can be found on the following pages:
Part 1: My Early Years: Personal Memories of Kent
Part 2: Family life after the war
Part 3: Elizabeth Langford and William Ewell

Chapter 4. Summer 1947

The wedding

The wedding of Paul Eldridge and Winifred Curtis, October 1942.

It was lovely weather. The days were warm and long. We lived in a stone cottage, rather attractive outside with a very good garden. It was after the war and my husband, Paul, was demobbed and we, with a two and a half year old daughter, were homeless. We had lived for a while with my sister in law but this was not a happy state of affairs. The best outcome of it was that one day my sister in law was on a bus and she overheard some country folk talking: one asking the other if the cottage next door to her was still empty and she said ‘yes’. My dear sister in law asked where it was. The outcome was that we got the cottage for 10 shillings (50p) a week.

The disadvantage was no running water and an outside toilet which was emptied on rare occasions by lorry. This really was a midden- no bucket, no running water. I used a watering can with concentrated Jayes fluid. I may add my daughter was never allowed in there-but the fascination this held for her was most amusing.

We had to get all our water in a bucket from a tap about 400 yards away. On one occasion my father went to get us some water in the snow, slipped and fell down and hurt his back. We also had a large heavy water pump from a water tank. The pump was in a wash house with a copper boiler etc. but as this backed on to the soak away midden we only used this for washing the floors.

Continued in column 2...

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One morning a gypsy knocked on the door saying how very thirsty her horse was and would I be kind enough to get him just one pail of water. I said I would have to pump it up and she waited by the gate. Within a few minutes I had pumped the water and as I took it to the horse his nose was twitching and when I put the pail down the horse took about three slurps and the pailfull was gone! The girl said the horse was still thirsty and could he have some more? Off I went with the bucket and filled it up thinking the poor horse must be really thirsty. I couldn’t believe my eyes when this pail went the same way! I got a third pail which also went the same way as well. As the horse turned to go I looked at him closely thinking he must be awash inside and that it would show but he turned and went up the road back with the gypsies to their encampment.

Knole Park near Sevenoaks, Kent
Knole Park

Knole Park: House and grounds (1)

The cottage that we lived in was opposite a large park which was part of Knole Park. Our cottage was one of a group of eight cottages with large gardens. As it was so soon after the end of the war we were all keen gardeners growing as much as we could, including potatoes. We had a very good crop and my husband dug them up and left them on top of the earth to dry, covering them up each night. We did notice that something had been nibbling the potatoes and we wondered what it was. We came to the conclusion that the teeth marks were too big to be a rabbit. We did not think of deer, although later when we found it was deer (from Knole Park) we understood how the sacks had been pulled back from the potatoes. We were in bed one night shortly after this when we heard some snuffling noises. Paul, my husband, got up to look out of the window to see what the noise was. Hardly had he got to the window and was just going to put his head out when “CRACK!!!” There was a loud noise of a gun being fired out of the window of the next cottage bedroom window. Luckily he missed and we were glad. Although there was a 5ft high stone wall and a gate the deer must have cleared one or the other quite easily.


1. Knole, viewed from Lord Sackville's garden, Sevenoaks, Kent: TQ5354 Geograph © Pam Frey and licenced for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
2. "Grassy Clearing in Knole Park, Kent"; (TQ5554): Geograph: Grassy Clearing in Knole Park, Kent © Pete Chapman and licenced for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Added: January 17th 2007
Updated: April 20th 2012

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