Mary Pugh

Miss Mary Pugh 1901 – 1992

Mary Pugh was born in Ullenhall and lived all her life in the village.


In 1900 and onwards to at least 1920 there were at least 80 children at Ullenhall C of E School. The Headmistress was Miss Crookes & the infant teacher Miss Albrighton, the playground was divided by tall wooden railings, with a gate in the middle, for drinking a hand water tap could be reached by boys and girls.

A number of children then attended school from Morton Bagot and Oldberrow as well as from Blunts Green & Deans Green, children left school at 14. Cookery and Woodwork classes were held once weekly at Henley-in-Arden.

Road from Crowleys Hill at the top end of the Village and as far as the Alcester Road closed from one Tuesday night until the following Tuesday in the winter of 1947, drifts were over eight feet high in places. People from Tanworth walked over fields and hedges for bread from Mr Allcott of Ullenhall.

Mary’s Memories:

Earliest memories are always difficult mostly because it’s difficult to put a date to them. I remember the wonderful Xmas parties we all (schoolchildren) had at Barrells Hall. The wonderful Xmas tree in the centre of the Servants Hall, the only room large enough to hold from 70-80 children. I cannot remember the eats but the presents either pullovers for boys and dress lengths, and one memorable year a red cloak & hood for girls. The excitement of waiting for your own name to be read and remembering the pushers from behind. When the great moment arrived trying not to forget the little curtsey to Mr & Mrs Newton.

I remember when as a child I was allowed to go Carol Singing with a number of schoolchildren including my two older brothers, we sang to the elderly people living in the Old Chapel Cottages. Mrs Scragg lived in the far end one, she came to the door and thanked us, but was sorry she hadn’t any pennies to spare. I thought it was only money we had come for so turned away, when my elder brother Joe, boxed my ears, and said we are singing another carol.

We were then living at the top of the Village in one of two houses now pulled down. I’ve forgotten the year we moved to ‘Yew Tree Farm’ in Gentleman’s Lane, but think I must have been 6 or 7. I know I had the little back bedroom complete with Jug and Basin, soap dish etc on a marble topped washstand, and being wakened on nights with them all rattling. I know I screamed out in terror to my parents, and my father calling out, telling me to go to sleep again “for it was only an earthquake?”

I was reminded by a lady then living in Shirley, who wrote in the Sunday Mercury at the beginning of July this year asking if anyone remembered the 30th of June 1916 at 5.30pm seeing the Zeppelin going over, we all saw it and was glad to have the date. We ran from (can’t read) and up to the orchard to see it flying from right to left between us and Birmingham. I did intend writing to her but mislaid the paper for the address, as she was now living in Scotland.

My father and two elder brothers were in the Church Choir. I should imagine I was about five and sitting with my mother. I remember that I could just see over the ? in front. The Rev. Pelton was our Vicar then, came in 1901 and retired in 1932. He was very easily distracted during the sermon, and I know how cross my mother was with me when he called out “little girl I’m sure if you put your hand in front of your mouth it would stifle your cough”. (I still have a cough but suck a sweet)

We had a wonderful blind organist during Mr. Pelton’s ministry, Mr. Edwards, lived in Handsworth and travelled by tram and train to Ullenhall on a Saturday returning to Handsworth on Monday. He walked from Danzey station often by himself finding the entrance to the Vicarage drive without hesitation. After Sunday School in the afternoon Miss King (Governor at the Vicarage), Ruth, Pheobe Pelton and myself would take a walk until tea time. Mr. Edwards often accompanying us, he never used a walking stick. He remain as organist at Ullenhall for a number of years afterwards moving to Din? as organist, we all missed him so much, he wrote a book about his many visits to Ullenhall, bringing in the members of our choir. The volumes meant for Ullenhall never reached us for Philip Edwards died rather suddenly in his late 60s.

Miss King took Sunday School for many years, I remember vividly the last quarter of an hour we enjoyed the reading of “the Wind in the Willows”.

An earthquake was again felt in the summer of this year just before 8am I felt my bed lift as I thought but did not think anymore about it until doing meals on wheels in Henley when someone in Henley had heard it on the 12 O’clock news.

During the 1939 war a very worthwhile Home Guard was formed. Their hut was stationed in the Gravel pit field at the back of Hill Crest. The pits were then being used the gravel being brought out just below. Hill Crest which of course was built many years later. The Air Raid Wardens met at the Coffee House nightly, the Rev. Whittaker being one of them. He was asked if he objected to them playing cards, he said no, and said he had plenty of reading matter. The evening when bombs were dropped at Morton Bagot and Oldberrow was the one night they had to be told about it the next morning. The WI formed sewing parties and jam and chutney meetings at the Village Hall making over 700lbs of jam, and raising funds for (gap).

Walking up from the village past Brook House and through the field called Bedlam Blunt over the lane leading from Perry Mill towards the Old Chapel at up steps into what used to be allotments rented out at a very low rent by Squire Newton to people in the village, it was a lovely spot and a favourite walk with a grand view of the village. It was sold and a bungalow built on it after the Second World War by Mr. & Mrs Lambourne.

Weekly sewing meetings were held by the WI during the last war ending in a grand sale of work at which £180 was taken, a cheque for £120 was handed to Mrs Barnard (Lady of the Manor) living at Oldberrow Rectory for the Nursing Association; and the remaining £40 to Lady Miles for the Infant Centre.

Mrs Marlow of Hunger Hill had formed a Ladys Conservative Association in the middle 30s. Anthony Eden was our Leamington and Stratford MP. He twice visited our meetings and at the ending of the 1939 war remarked to Mr Churchill PM that Ullenhall was the only Ladies committee to meet regularly during the war, this being mentioned at Westminster Hall. Mr Profomo followed Mr Eden and it was then after the war that we held the memorable garden parties yearly at the home of Mr and Mrs Lambourne, the bungalow built on the old allotments. Mr Profomo with his lovely wife Valerie attended two of these Conservative gatherings at spoke to the gathering. How very fortunate we were to have two such wonderful members to represent us. After Mr Profomo was adopted as our MP I was asked to arrange a coach party for a visit to the Houses of Parliament. Not having met Mr Profomo at this very early appointment I wrote to Mr Eden giving the date of our proposed visit. Mr Eden made arrangements for our visits but was unfortunately not able to meet us there as he had an arrangement south of London. We were about an hour late reaching London, pulling up opposite the Palace of Westminster, I remember getting out the coach and looking around as we were to be met, saw a policeman coming across, our driver said he is coming to move us on, he was proved wrong for he said to me “Miss Pugh’s party? Mr Eden waited until half an hour ago to welcome you all but then had to leave.” Wishing us an enjoyable it felt almost like a decoration to me being hailed in the centre of London by name.

Our Village Hall was built in 1935. Mr Barber who lived at Grimshaw Hall at the top of Ragged House Hill donated the field adjoining ‘Crowleys Cottages’, two of the four cottages belong to St. Mark’s Charity. Tarleton Bros of Redditch built the Village Hall at a cost of £1,500. The Village Institute who had held weekly nightly meetings at the Coffee House had worked hard and presented the sum of £500 towards the building, and the WI formed in 1927 also holding meetings at the Coffee House had saved £200 towards the new Hall. The table, chairs, crockery, piano etc were then moved and the room at the north end of the Hall was opened nightly to men of all ages with the exception of WI evenings of the first Thursday of each month.

The winter before we moved to Yew Tree Farm and we were living in the top house of two, now a bungalow now are, just below Rose Cottage Farm, my two elder brothers Joe and Jack developed diphtheria and sent to what was then the Joint Hospital situated on the right hand side of the A34 entering Stratford-on-Avon. I was sent up to my grandparents then living at Heath Farm each morning I was asked if my throat was sore. Doctor Nelson was not satisfied that it was not and after his visit I was also ordered off to the Hospital. A coachman driving a very smart carriage came for me. Some time ago I tried to remember his name and it was not until Pope John came to visit England that it came to me that his name was Mr Pope. The Joint Hospital was an isolation Hospital. Diphtheria on the left and Scarlet Fever on the right. Although my attack was not severe I was longer in Hospital than my brother, being brought home by carriage by Mr Pope on Christmas Eve. As far as I remember I enjoyed by stay in Hospital. Parents and visitors gazing at us through the window during my stay in Hospital for just over a month.

The original School was entered through the Boys cloakroom, what a glorious site in the winter it was to see the two huge fires on in the big room and the other in the classroom. Miss Crookes was our Governess and Miss Albrighton the Infant Teacher, the latter taking Singing and Sewing classes in the big room. Miss Crookes and Miss Albrighton lived together in the School House adjoinging the School, access being from the big room, and into the girls cloakroom where a door led into a yard to the Back Kitchen door to the School House.

After the 1914-18 war (in which my two brothers served towards the latter part) my father formed a village cricket team which was a great asset to the village. The pitch was in the field in front of the Brook House and to the right of the Oak tree growing in the centre. The score board being near the hedge bordering the (can’t read) where now the Tennis Courts and Village Hall are. The Vicar the Rev. W. F. Pelton gave Olive Allcott (as she then was) two little spirit stoves on which to boil the kettle for tea, Mr Bailey C.C. area Surveyor of Buckley Green loaned the team a massive roller which lived under the aforesaid Oak tree.