Memories of Fiddington House

We have met Glyn Arnold before and shared his childhood memories in Childhood mischief in the 1930s and 40s. Young Glyn’s home was the middle of the three houses along The Clays in the 1930s. Not surprisingly, living there, his oral history recording includes his memories of Fiddington House, which was run as an asylum.

On this map from 1900, The Clays is marked as fp (footpath) and runs almost parallel to the High Street running through the centre of Market Lavington. (See Along The Clays.)

Glyn remembered continuing along The Clays to the back entrance to Fiddington House. There were farm buildings by this gate, where pigs and cows were reared, along with gardens and orchards which also supplied some of the food for the residents. Fiddington House was a large property, surrounded by grounds and lawns and it had a lake alongside the road to Easterton. Glyn also spoke of a little round chapel, where the patients walking in the woods could stop and rest.

Glyn said the asylum was a good source of employment for local folk and that a lot of the nurses lived in the village. He would have had opportunities to visit as the Church fetes were always held in the grounds.

Like many residents remembering Fiddington House, he talked about Miss Benson, the daughter of the owner. She lived in the lodge and had a grand piano. Glyn, and many others, used to stop outside and listen to her playing ‘lovely highbrow music’. (See Diana Benson, Fiddington Lodge and The end for the lodge at Fiddington House.)

Some of the residents were fit enough to be allowed out and about in the village. We have met Jonny Maddox, (with his interest in the church sundial) before. He was well known for going around the village on his white bicycle and handing out religious texts. Glyn was given a lovely bible by Mr Maddox. Apparently, Mr Maddox used to wear a white coat. Glyn went to old time dancing classes in the parish room (where the nursing home now stands) and came home in the dark. Sometimes he saw a white figure in the orchard, who he thought, and hoped, was probably Mr Maddox in his white coat, but he’d hurry along and arrive home flustered.

Among the other residents from Fiddington House, Glyn remembered a gentleman who scuffed his feet as he walked down the street and another who walked with a stick. There was also a young lady called Poppy, who was ‘dressed to the nines’ with all her clothes and lipstick in matching colours.

For more information on Fiddington House, see At Fiddington House and another At Fiddington House, Fiddington House – 1920s, Fiddington House – 1963, Fiddington House – a brief history., Fiddington House Asylum and An Advertisement for Fiddington House.

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