A lad in Eastcott – 1930s – 40s

In our previous blog, we learned from John Sainsbury’s oral history recording about Prisoners of war at Eastcott. He also reminisced about his boyhood days there.

He moved to Eastcott from Market Lavington when he was five, so most of his childhood memories centred on this tithing of Easterton. On this map, Eastcott is located at the top right, north east of Easterton village. It is a small place and John was the only child there. Near neighbours were Mr and Mrs Hale. Their son, Aubrey, shot foxes so he could sell their skins and tails.

John lived with his mother and stepfather in a small cottage with one bedroom and a landing area upstairs. It had originally been one of a pair of cottages, but the other one was derelict. John’s family stored apples upstairs in it and there was a copper downstairs, where they heated water for a bath. The water came from a well outside and they kept milk, butter and cheese cool down the well in the summer.

John walked across the fields to attend Easterton School. We have previously seen Joy Sheppard’s Memories of an Easterton schoolgirl and her Easterton memories of 1930s. John recalled being in Miss Thomas’s class and the school milk being warmed round the fire in the winter.

His other memories of Easterton were of singing in the church choir and pumping the organ for Miss Stone to play. He remembered the vicar, Mr Stacy, warming himself by the church fire. Miss Shears used to ring the church bell at 12 noon every day so that the workers in the fields would know the time.

When not at school, John roamed around the countryside near his home. He would mostly play at Wroughton Folly (see The Folly) sometimes taking the goat with him. There was a huge area of blackberries there. These could be sold to Samuel Moore’s jam factory in Easterton along with any jam jars he could find. Sometimes John would take a trolley with him and collect firewood. He might also follow the stream down to Crookwood Mill, on the edge of Urchfont (the next village in the opposite direction to Easterton) and splash about in the water there.

We will dip into more of John’s memories another time.

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