Olivia Brunten

Ullenhall 50 years ago

I have so many good memories of Ullenhall – even pre-war, when we had a weekend cottage at Old Forde Hall. We liked it in the country so much that we decided to live there and made cattlegates and a road to the Old Forde Hall cottage.

I came into Ullenhall for shopping at Miss Richard’s as she was then, also at the other shop owned by Mr and Mrs Rowland Jones.

Mr Allcott Snr used to deliver bread to us – coming by the old road (which is overgrown now). You used to be able to drive right up to the two cottages. There was a bridge to the little River Alne. Sometimes a young married lady, Molly Neale who lived on Church Hill in a bungalow, came also with bread deliveries. She was given a medal for bravery as she rescued a farmer (whilst delivering bread) from an angry bull. Mr Allcott used to cook our Christmas turkey for us in his large oven.

Right up the village, nearing Forde Hall Lane, on the right were many pretty old cottages. In one of them, my husband would get his hair cut on Sunday morning. I think the name of the people was ‘Hemming’.

Mrs Franklyn used to teach ballroom dancing in the hall. She lived in the last red brick cottage nearly opposite Allcott’s.

Mr and Mrs Ross who lived on Church Hill (the houses are gone now) came to help us. Jim in the garden and to look after the Shetland pony, and Mrs Ross in the house.

I can remember seeing the interior of Barrell’s Hall and went up the stairs into the tower. It was not so ruinous then and I remember the ballroom and conservatory. I also remember Mr Impey who kept the little shop (papers and light grocery, sweets etc) which was again up the street near Forde Hall Lane. It’s all built up now. Ullenhall had transport then and was a delightful country village.

Many times we had very many severe winters and the road to Tanworth and Ullenhall was blocked with snow, right over the hedges. I remember old Mr Price got his son John Price to make a huge sledge to take the milk to Danzey station. It was pulled by their faithful old horse.

I remember how we helped them ‘Stooking’ the corn in the fields and Mary Price would bring out tea and cakes for the workers. Opposite Forde Hall in the first field are a group of fir trees, and it marks the spot of emergency water. It used, at one time, to supply the water to Ullenhall and surroundings.

I also remember the old road man who would sit in the bank of the hedge and have lunch under his large umbrella. He was paid a shilling for each tree he left and did not cut down.

Mr Broderick, the milkman at Forde Hall was allowed by custom the Beastings (the first milk after calving), also the chiltterings from the pig.

I can also remember the yearly visit of the man who had a steam engine to deal with the corn, barley and oats. He used to sleep in the caravan pulled by the steam engine.

I also remember when they cut the corn by a tractor and a cutter. They all congregated at each corner of the field to shoot the rabbits which were numerous.

It was also much more interesting and enjoyable in those days. Everyone helping and making friends.

PS: the two ancient cottages on Forde Hall Estate mentioned in the Domesday Book and all the old maps mention Old Forde Hall, where the cottages were, as Forde Hall Farm, which was a Victorian building. The cottages (when I was living in west Wales when my husband retired) were pulled down by John Price and a large house stands there now, with a road coming down from the Grange where Mr Seycombe lived. If I had been there at that time, I would have brought it up with the council as they were listed.