Life in Hook Green
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Hook Green Life in the 1940s
Mr Robert Dancy, who lived at the Hook Green Post Office and Stores from 1938 until 1960, has kindly sent us copies of his memories and agreed to share them with us on the website. The first is entitled "Hook Green Life in the 1940s" The second is entitled "Wartime in Kent" and very much focuses on the Hook Green and Lamberhurst areas. It is reproduced here in three parts for reasons of size. Both make fascinating reading. Click on the links below to enjoy these memories. The photographs below are also reproduced courtesy of Robert Dancy.
Life in Hook Green in the 1940's
Wartime in Kent Part 1
Wartime in Kent Part 2
Wartime in Kent Part 3
View across the heath to what are now Fir Tree Cottage, Poacher's Cottage, White Cottage (then Appletree Cottages) and Durrants Cottage
(Durrants Cottage on the right.) Note the oast houses! Robert Dancy writes:"houses in those days seemed not to have names - we all knew one another, and they were called after their inhabitants. Even Bull Lane Cottages, which I think were numbered from right to left were not often mentioned in any other way. During the war a single bomb, unusually made of aluminium, dropped behind the oast house in the background of this picture, doing no damage."
THE MEMORIES OF AUDREY GRANT
Audrey is another ex-resident of Hook Green who recently shared with us some of her earliest memories. We have reproduced them below:
"We only lived in Hook Green for a few years, from 1934 to 1938. I was 3 when my mother, sister and I moved to "The Post Office and Stores" with our grand-parents. My father had recently died. My sister and I had such happy memories of Hook Green, she was 5 when we arrived there and so started school straight away. I think my memories must be from the age of 5, for I cannot see how I could have remembered things earlier than that. I well remember the two Miss Hiles and our time at the school.
Our great grandparents lived in one of the cottages at the cross roads, on the left at the top of Clappers hill and our aunt and uncle lived next door. The great grandparents' name was Tolhurst. I believe they had lived there all their married life, which was 70 years. They both died at the age of 97. Great grandfather worked on the Estate for all of his working life, as a woodsman. Here they are outside their cottage in Hook Green.
I found Robert's write up on Hook Green so interesting. As children we had so much freedom to roam the countryside and I can remember us playing around the Abbey ruins, birdsnesting and mushrooming, as he did.The field he mentioned behind The Elephant, was one of our favourite places for mushrooms. He also mentioned finding "pig nuts"and eating them. We used to find them under the fir trees in the field next to the school. I have mentioned these to people over the years and no-one had heard of them. If we found a lot, we used to take them to wash at Rita Brabon's house. They lived in the house across the track from the shop. They had a big white sink just inside the back door!
Lord Camden always took a great interest in the school and often came to visit. At Christmas we children were invited to the"big house" as we used to call it, and there was a very tall christmas tree at the foot of the stairs. We all had a present off the tree. I imagine that was discontinued during the war.
Every Mayday, there was a Maypole erected on the green outside the Elephant and the girls danced around it ( I recently found a photo of my sister and I, dressed ready to dance). Here we are with the May Queen, a photo probably taken in about 1936/7."
Robert Dancy writes:
"You can still see the white paint covering up the "Hook Green Stores" sign which had to be covered over in 1940, as with all signs were which might have been of use to the Germans if they had invaded. All signposts were of course taken down, for the same reason.
A 20mm cannon shell from a Hawker Tempest hit the ground just in front of the gate to the shop. A Doodlebug was coming towards us, chased by the Tempest at dusk one evening in July 1944, and the fire of his cannons (mounted in its wings) could be seen clearly as he headed straight towards us. Several other shells hit the trees by the house. Luckily he didn't get the Doodlebug with that burst, or I might not be here sharing the story !! He downed it successfully a few seconds later. At over 400 mph, things happen quickly.
There is still a large anti-aircraft shell in the back garden! During an air raid about 1941 we heard a whistle and a dull thud, and in the morning found a neat hole in the cabbage patch. The army was called, but when a couple of squadies arrived, they pushed rods down, found it was at least 15 feet below the surface, said "That's too far down to dig out, and will be no problem to you". So it's still there.
Yes, like Robert, I remember the gypsies on the green in the summer. We could never make out why they would keep coming to the shop, with a bottle, for vinegar!
MORE ABOUT THE TOLHURSTS
Thanks to Barbara Uren and the Lamberhurst History Society Archives we are able to add some more detail to Audrey's memories of her great grandparents.
The photo is of Mr David& Mrs Emma Tolhurst, probably on their 70th Wedding Anniversary which took place at Bayham on the 25th October (We have a copy of a similar picture taken on that day)
Extract from a Bayham Estate Magazine December 1934 - "It was in 1867, three years after his marriage, that Mr Tolhurst started as a woodsman on the Estate, and it was not until 1928 that he retired from active work.In the previous year he had been presented with a clock by Lord & Lady Camden to commemorate his 60 years of work on the Estate. He was also given a walking stick by his fellow workmen in the woods department. Mrs Tolhurst belongs to a family who have had a long connection with Bayham. Her Grandfather, Samuel Doust, farmed a small holding at Hook Green......At his death Lord Camden caused a tombstone to be erected in Lamberhurst Churchyard recording his 50 years service on Bayham. Mrs Tolhurst's father (Also Samuel) also worked on the Estate.
Mr & Mrs Tolhurst have had a family of eleven children, four of whom are now alive (1934) and they have ten grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. When they first married they lived in a cottage at White Magpie (Hog Hole Lane) and after that in the neighbourhood of Hook Green. Mr Tolhurst is 91 and Mrs Tolhurst 93 years of age, and they are in such good health and spirits that there seems no reason why they should not commemorate whatever it is that comes after a ruby wedding.
We feel sure that all our readers would like to wish them a very Happy Christmas and New Year."
Bayham Magazine June 1936 - " The death of Mrs David Tolhurst on 10th May bought to a close a conjugal partnership which has lasted for well nigh seventy-two years. Few married couples can have shared the trials of life for such a very long period, and to those who knew - as did most of those living at Bayham - what a happy and contented couple they were, it came as no surprise when they learned that David had not long survived his life-being companion....This passing leaves a great blank, not only in the lives of their children and their children's children, but in those of their many friends in all walks of life to whom their devotion and steadfastness was both an inspiration and an example."
TOLHURST Emma aged 94 at Hook Green, May 10th 1936
TOLHURST David aged 92, at Hook Green, May 23rd 1936.
Bayham Abbey School, Hook Green, was built in 1860 by Lord Camden for the children of the Bayham Estate designed by Architect David Brandon and built by Messrs Trollope. The School soon proved to be too small and a new classroom was added in 1885, taking the school roll up to 104. The School closed in 1947 and in 1954 was converted into two dwellings - School House and School Lodge.
The photograph below is reproduced courtesy of Mr Paul Marshall.
The photographs below have been reproduced here with the kind permission of Andrew Randall, grandson of George Lancaster Randall who was Secretary to Lord Camden from 1904 to 1929.
My father was the local air-raid warden, and was often chastising the family at No. 4 for not doing a good black-out job, with light often showing. Then one night a fairly low-flying German bomber dropped a string of bombs across Hook Green. I had just gone up to bed, and remember only too well the sound of the bombs coming down (they made a very distinctive loud whistle) and then thump, thump, thump as they exploded, shaking the house. One l gardener, weeds occupying the ground, and the joke around the hamlet was "He didn't dig his garden, but Jerry did!".
The photographs above are reproduced courtesy of Robert Dancy
The two photographs immediately above are reproduced courtesy of Robert Dancy