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Memories of Hardwick Green

Posted: Friday 7th December 2018 by HardwickGreenMeadows

Hardwick Green Meadows (c) Paul LaneHardwick Green Meadows (c) Paul Lane

Listen to memories recorded as part of our oral history project...

Hearing people’s memories of meadows and the local landscape brings the place to life in a way that only oral history can. It conjures up experiences of growing up, farming and working in this farmland that speaks to all of our senses as we listen. It helps us to understand why the landscape that we are protecting has meant so much to people and how they have influenced and lived through the changes over time.

As part of our project to buy and discover more about Hardwick Green Meadows and the local area we have been working with Julia Letts, the regional representative of the Oral History Society and experienced oral history producer. We have been lucky enough to recruit five volunteers and Julia has provided training and ongoing support to enable this group to make recordings with people in the Hardwick Green area.

We are so excited about the progress of our oral history project and so grateful to HLF for the opportunities their funding has created for the community.

Funding has enabled volunteers to learn to use the recording equipment, how to conduct an interview and how best to elicit the stories that we know are important for the history of the area. Some have been learning to summarise the interviews so that other people can access this oral history in the future.

We've chosen to share below just a few of the wonderful memories that we've been hearing. There will be more to come in the future!

John Humphreys

A young John HumphreysJohn Humphreys grew up on a farm between Pendock and Eldersfield Marsh in the 1950s. His family’s land, farmed by his grandfather and father before him, ran down to the brook and adjacent to what is now the Trust's Hardwick Green Meadows. The best hay came from the low-lying meadows. From an early age, John helped with the farm work and at haymaking time, a gang of his friends - Pendock lads - were recruited to get the bales back to the farm. One of John’s most vivid early memories is the special supper his mother prepared for them after a long day lugging bales.

 

 

John outside his farm todayJohn refers to his fields by name. There’s ‘Flooded Meadow’, which is the most prone to flooding, ‘Poor Piece’, ‘Horse Meadow’ and the three ‘Cinders’ fields. John has found fragments of Roman pottery in these meadows and thinks the name might be connected to the site of an ancient fire pit. These fields are criss-crossed with drains, both ancient and modern, and they regularly flood.

 

 

Ann Heywood

Ann and her dogAnn was born a Jackson and grew up at Hardwick Court, which her father bought from the Croome Estate in the 1940s. She spent her childhood roaming the fields with her brother Kym, exploring the Marsh and hoping not to bump into the ‘Witch of Eldersfield’.

Ann and Kym went to Pendock school on a small bus that picked up the children from Hardwick Green and other hamlets. In summer months, they would go straight out to the fields with a picnic tea for Ann’s father.

 

Ann's father at Hardwick Court

Reg Roberts

Reg Roberts in 1935Reg Roberts is 90 and has an astonishing memory of growing up in Corse Lawn and then Eldersfield in the difficult years of the 1930s. His father, who had been in the army, lost his job as a gardener in Corse Lawn and then struggled to find work. The family moved to the recently-built council houses in Eldersfield and Reg recalls life being ‘pretty tough’. They rarely had enough to eat and on occasions the four children shared one egg. When Reg’s father did get regular work, he rented two fields on Eldersfield Marsh. One of these was the first meadow of what is now the Trust's Hardwick Green Meadows, the other was just opposite. Reg’s father kept various stock on these fields.

 

 

Reg RobertsReg recalls that there was no water in their fields so twice a day, in all weathers, he or his father would drag a trolley full of water containers from their house along the road across Eldersfield Marsh. He remembers the huge flocks of birds that descended on the fields after floods and the prolific wild daffodils.

 

 

Hardwick Green Meadows (c) Paul Lane

 

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