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Terrington 2020 Project - Interview with Barbara Spencer

Date of interview: 29 February 2000
Interviewer: Liz Johnson
Transcribed by: Susie Wildey

Listen to the recording:


The full transcript of the interview with Barbara Spencer follows, running to 20 or so printed pages. You can select below one of a number of topics if you would like to pick out discussion of that particular topic. Also below are lists of names and places which occur in the transcript so you can search for any you are interested in.


Click on a Topic to show all Q&As in that topic in blue, with the rest of the text grey. Then click on any blue Q&A to move to the next one in that topic. Click Restore document to restore the original document.


The following names occur. To find occurrences of one of them, press Ctrl+F, type the name you want into the Search box which appears, and click the Down arrow or Next button.

Barons, Bucknell, Clementson, Edwards, Fuguill, Goodrick, Goodwill, Holden, Hope, Lascelles, Taylor, Thompson, Walker, Waters, Wimbush


The following places occur. To find occurrences of one of them, press Ctrl+F, type the place name you want into the Search box which appears, and click Down arrow or Next button.

Africa, Cambridge, Cheshire, Cliffe House, Crayke, Dalby, Delhi, Fridaythorpe, Fulford, Harrogate, Hawnby, Hovingham, Husthwaite, Iceland, India, Leeds, London, Malaysia, Malton, Middleton Towers, New Lane, Nunnington, Oxford, Scarborough, Shrewsbury, Stockton Lane, Sutton on Forest, Swinton, Tollerton, West Acklam, Whitby, Wiganthorpe, York

Transcript of interview

Can I ask you where you were born?

Born in the slums of Leeds, Eastern Hill in 1914 - March 13th 1914 and we’d stayed there for 2 years and then went to Fridaythorpe for seven years. Between Fridaythorpe and Leeds we were in ….. no it’s gone

Nunnington, or was Nunnington later?

No it was a just small visit, just 6 months No, Nunnington we went to and lived there for 8 years, but no sorry we’d been to Fridaythorpe before that, and then

Then from Nunnington you came to Terrington?


So you’d be about how old when you came to Terrington, early teens?

Yes, this is ridiculous I could have thought of all this

No it doesn’t matter exactly, it’s a rough idea of how long

No I was just thinking of when West Acklam fitted in, it was between Nunnington and Terrington and that was a short stay, yes, 2 years .

When you came to Terrington, you lived where?

In the Rectory what is now The Old Rectory, but not the very big one, which was a school. We lived there and it was a very large, cold house and we followed a parson whose wife had a lot of money and my father and mother didn’t have a lot of money and so it was quite a job keeping it warm, keeping it going, and they also had a gardener which we didn’t have, because they were too expensive. But we managed to keep the garden up and grew all our own fruit and vegetables there.

Did you have brothers and sisters?

Yes, I had a brother who was 2 years older than me.

Was he still at home at that time?

He was at home, he was at school in St Edwards School, Oxford and then he went to Cambridge at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

And did you go to school from Terrington?

I went to school but we’d had a lot of governesses before that, shared governesses and then I went to Harrogate College for 3 years which was absolute hell.

Was that boarding?

Boarding, yes, dreadful being constrained I found. And then I went to a Gardening College in Cheshire which was much more interesting.

What can you remember about holiday times, when you were not at school, when you were in Terrington? What sort of things did you do?

I think I chiefly rode and we used to go over to Whitby and Scarborough and things at intervals because we had a Citroen car, the number was CB ….., no it’s gone!

Amazing how you can remember the numbers, not recent numbers.

It was a lovely car.

And did you have things like running water, electricity, and all that was available?

Yes, it was here, because the Wimbushes had put in things like that

This was post First World War that you came here?

Yes, it was

And what was in the village in the way of shops, and services and so on?

There was a Post Office and there was the co-op which came from, I think it was connected to the Malton lot of co-ops I think, and they were very good really. They came round and took orders and then grocers came out from Malton and took orders too. I don’t know how they all made any money out of it.

And was there a Post Office here then?

Yes there was, can’t think where it was.

And was there a garage, was that right?

Yes, down at the bottom of the village on the left – the Goodwills, one of the lots of Goodwills were there. That had petrol and I cannot think where the shop was. It was further up the village I think. Oh, yes, it was where Colin [Old Wells ed.] lives now, it was a co-op and then the grocers came round from Malton to take orders as well and so were fairly well served.

Were there bus services as well?

Yes, there was Hopes bus which went 3, no 4 times a day, if you can believe it to Malton and then on Thursdays and Saturdays they went to York. It was astonishing really!

It is compared with now. Did many people actually have cars then?

No, I don’t think a lot of people.

Did people still go on horseback to places then or not?

Not a lot, when we were here, no.

But you did a lot of riding around here?

I did a lot of riding, and the lass or two who lived up at the top of Terrington, in a house called Cliffe, they had horses and they had a car, he was uncle of Lord Harewood, I think. Anyhow some fairly near connection? And they had several maids and a gardener and I think the gardener and groom were one person. There were 3 daughters, 2 who rode and one who went to London to be a model, much to her father’s horror. He was a sweet old man and Lady Lascelles was very tall and she was a member of the Thynn family, the Devonshire,


Yes, she was one of those.

So your father was Rector here, who else was do you remember in the village at that time?

Well, endless Goodwills of course, and the Hopes. The Hopes had the buses and they ran to York and Malton and they would do any shopping for you, especially Stanley who was very, very kind and good. And you just said please get me you know tins of something or other And he was terribly kind. I don’t know how they made a living out of it, but they must have done.

Who else was there, as you say the Goodwill family, the Goodricks I suppose?

The Goodricks were always joiners and they were on the green where their cottage is now, where their bungalow is, they had a big workshop there and they were good joiners. Trying to think what other trade there was, the people at the Cliffe and then there were the Lascelles there while we were there. I’m trying to think who else there was, of interest.

Was Alf Walker here then? Or was it you knew him at Nunnington

He was in Nunnington, I don’t think he’d come here then, he was a little boy at Nunnington. The people called Edwards lived in the big house at the top on the left [the Lodge ed.].

Where the Wynns live?


Were they local people, had they been here …?

No, they weren’t they just, I can’t remember where they came from at all. And then the farms

Vesters and Bickers??

and no ……. it’s gone again. Of course it was practically all horses everywhere and you went to the blacksmith’s shop where you had lots of gossip with everybody who was there. While you were waiting for your horse to be shod there was a game that you could play which was on one end of the blacksmith’s shop where there were walks of timber across and hook, an iron hook and at the other end you had a place where the rope was attached and you threw the rope to get the ring over the thing, yes. That occupied one, but I don’t imagine it nobody would ever see one like that

Was there a Village Hall then?

Ummm, yes.

And there was a Village School, presumably then?

There was a village school, just trying to think about the Village Hall. It was where Hermione is, North Back Lane

And what sort of activities went on, were there things that you went to at the Hall?

Yes, they had quite a lot of concerts and things and they had dances, and meetings were in there. It was in 2 parts, you could have billiards at one end, and then the other longer bit of the L was for dances and things. But the Women’s Institute and the Mothers’ Union all joined, worked in there.

Did people come in from outside the village to events like that?

Yes, they did.

Did you have any particular friends your age in the village?

Just the Lascelles, yes. It was terribly snobbish in those days, didn’t mix with the, I don’t know, it was awful, it really was, terribly.

Well that was the way it was?

It was the way it was, yes. People had their own entertainment.

So you were still here when you actually finished school at Harrogate, you were still living here?

Yes, and then I was at this Gardening College and then I was at home here. Until War started, and I got called up then. But I belonged to the Red Cross, there was a marvellous person called Mrs Barons at Swinton and she organised a Red Cross detachment and there were the Lascelles, lots of people from round about went to it, and worked there and got trained and went away for summer training. Went to VAD’s.

Was there actually a doctor in the village then or a nurse?

No it was Hovingham Doctors.

And then you joined the Land Army is that right?

No I just farmed on my own, because I’d got married to get out of the Red Cross.

Did you meet Harry here?

No I met him in the military hospital, in York military hospital.

Did you get married here?

We got married here, yes, I met him in September I suppose when the War started, he got called up and then we got married here in April 1940.

A year into the War really? Yes, and you got married in Church, did your father marry you?

Yes he married us. And then we went away for honeymoon to Hawnby.

Oh really?

Yes, lovely place. All 2 days and then he was called up and went to, I forget where they went immediately and then he went to Iceland for 3 years. Then I was working on the farms aroundabout.

Which farms?

I was working for William Thompson, who has a, used to have a great big grocers consortium.

Whereabouts was that?

Stockon on ……., Stockton Lane.

Did you live at the farm?

Yes, I lived at the farm, the farmer’s wife, they were Wolds people, terribly kind and I was fed frightfully well. I mean the food was awfully scarce then and I went and worked with horses there, which were very nice animals to work with. We had 3 cows which I think I had to milk, which I didn’t enjoy. The cows always used to put their feet in the milk buckets.

Anything else you’ve remembered about Terrington when you were here?

About the Rowdy boys. They were a group of young men that went round on Christmas Eve to all the houses and sang carols and woke you up and then about a week later, or a fortnight later they had a party in the Village Hall for all the people who contributed to the Rowdy boys

Were they local?

They were all local boys, yes they were mostly farmers and farmers’ sons. I think that Arthur Fuguill was the only person in the village that would take part, the people that remembered it, but I think that he would be the only man left that would remember it.

He was actually one of them?

He was actually one of the Rowdy boys, yes. Then, trying to think about Wiganthorpe, where the Holdens lived and they were terribly rich people, very generous, but very, very rich and they had one daughter called Diana and she was not allowed to walk downstairs on her own until she was 5 in case she fell, cause Wiganthorpe had a beautiful staircase, wide staircase and she had to have her nanny with her all the time going down the stairs. But she was allowed to ride and she used to go riding with us and hunting with a groom behind her, but they were very generous, they were very London people really I think. No I don’t ….. and they employed a lot of people and had a very big vegetable garden

And the house itself was a fine house, was it?

The house was a fine house, yes and it was pulled down in the War. It was bought by a timber merchant called Taylor I think it was, or something like that, and he pulled it down, which was simply criminal. It was a beautiful house, its lovely mahogany staircase.

Was it a Georgian house?

Yes, I think so. But they had all these servants and they had footmen in uniform and me as a penniless Parson’s daughter went to dinner there and you had these people standing behind your chair, I was absolutely petrified! They wore red tail coats, I can remember

Did they wear gloves?

I think so, yes I think so. It was a different world up there.

Was she this young one, was this the only child there?

Yes, I think he’d been married before and had a son who appeared occasionally, but the Lady Holden. He was a nice man but rather distant. They had a lot of gardeners and greenhouses. Wonderful, an awful pity that it was all pulled down, it was such a lovely place really. Then, you could walk up to it through the woods, you go down the lane, through the woods.

This was before New Lane was there, was it?

Yes. No New Lane was there, you could get down to the Shipley’s farm, I don’t know who has the farm now.

So you could get to the Hall that way?

Yes, on your feet. Or on your horse, yes.

You said that there was a policeman here?

Yes, who lived just opposite the end here.

Yes because I think he went quite recently really?

Yes I think so. Eeermmm who else was there

Was there a butchers?

Yes, there were 3 butchers – Goodwills, Goodricks and no, perhaps only two. But it was something to do with Hermione’s family I think. It’s rather difficult, two butchers not wishing to offend them.

And was there a baker in the village?

No there was the co-op shop and they got the bread. But I think most people baked their own, but there were Malton grocers came round for orders for flour and sugar and that sort of thing.

Is there anyone else you can remember in the village? Or anything special that happened? When they had weddings at the church did they have special, they used to tie the gate didn’t they, they still do. Was there any other sort of

I don’t know, they threw rice and things at people, but I don’t think there was anything else much at all.

And did your father just have to cover Terrington, he didn’t have to..

He had Dalby as well.

And what sort of congregations did you get in those days?

Well, fairly good because there wasn’t anything else for them to do, there was no telly or anything.

So the church would be fuller than it is

Well it would be full-ish and the men always sat on the far, far side, the side aisle. They all sat together there – all the Rowdy Boys.

Did they have Sunday School and things like that then?

They did I think, but I don’t think I ever had to take part in that.

Did your mother have to be involved?

She was involved with the Mothers’ Union but not much else, but we did find it very, very difficult living here after goodness knows how many years of Wimbushes. The Wimbushes were well off and we weren’t. And it was very difficult, however we’re still friends with the Wimbushes.

No hard feelings?

No, Martin was over yesterday

So you left here really in 1940?

Yes I left here in 1940

And then you went out and joined Harry?

My father by then vicar of Middleton Towers, near Richmond and I was working on a farm for William Thompson just outside York on Sutton on Forest, and then the War came to an end.

Then you went out to Malaysia didn’t you?

Went to Malaysia and we went to India.

With young children which can’t have been easy

Just trying to think which way round it happened. Christopher was born, we went to …... it comes back eventually, we went to Shrewsbury? and Christopher was born in Shrewsbury and then we went to, I went back to Middleton Towers by then, my father had moved to Middleton Towers, near Richmond and I went back there to ?Harry had got established in Delhi, so I went out to Delhi, which I thought was quite appalling. I still do – ghastly spot and then we moved to Malaysia.

That was where Veronica was born?


I remember you telling me about a dreadful journey back

Oh yes, 5 weeks or something awful

In a very old ship?

Very old ship, it kept getting blown off course and we were blown right down the coast of Africa.

With young children it must have been a nightmare?

Oh it was awful, yes absolutely awful. Still we all survived.

And when you came back to this country where did you live?

We went …. trying to think. By then my father had died and my mother was living in Husthwaite and we went and stayed with her until we found a house. Trying to think where Harry was, oh yes and Harry was stationed in York then and we had got a house in Fulford. A tiny little house just by the Gimcrack and we were there for 2 years I think and then found a house in Tollerton which was lovely. It was quite the friendliest village ever known, it’s amazingly friendly. We were there until we moved here, no not here, where did we go?


Can’t have gone straight to Crayke surely? Perhaps we did. Yes we did I think

And you were in Crayke for some years then?

We were in Crayke for quite a while, yes.

And then you came back to Terrington then? How long ago?

Must be about 5 years ago. Something like that yes. These sort of things I know when I’m not asked.

Can you remember how different you thought it was when you came back, what were the sort of things that struck you about it that were so different from earlier?

Think it was easier when we got back

I suppose there was a lot more building, I mean there were more houses?

Yes, but not a lot, they didn’t shoot up very quickly. There were 2 butchers in the village and joiners, Goodrick’s joiners.

And there was the pub of course, was there just the one pub?

One pub yes, but being a woman of course I never went to the pub!

No, how things have changed?

Yes, absolutely.

And there were several chapels weren’t there?

There were 3 chapels, one down beside the school there, which now I think belongs to …. it’s a sort of sports centre isn’t it, and one on Stock Lane/Mowthorpe Lane and one on, where on earth else was it – I’m sure there were 3. Because there were no houses up the left hand side at all, it was just all farming up there. The cemetery was on the go.

Yes when did that start, had it started already?

Yes I think it started about 1900, something like that.

When you were here the first time, did you have much contact with people in the other villages?

Not a lot, no not really. They seemed to keep themselves rather to themselves.

Was your father involved with the village school at all?

Yes I think he was a Governor and I think that he probably took a scripture lesson.

But not at the prep school, the prep school was there then?

The prep school was there but it was in rather in quite good order when we first came and then it rather went downhill.

Who was the head when you first came, can you remember?

No I can remember it was a man who he had some boys so he decided he would start a school for them, something beginning with B – Brocknell or, can’t quite remember what it was.

And did you have any contact with the family then or not?

Not a lot I think. Oh who on earth were they. It’s ridiculous I shall probably ring you up and say I’ve remembered.

Don’t worry it’s on the record somewhere that it will be recorded.

What is going to happen to this?

These will all be kept as a record of the history of the village. But I mean something like the Head’s name will be on record somewhere else, so you know that in a sense not important. And did it change hands while you were here then?

Yes it did,

Was that when Peter Clementson took it on, I can’t remember?

Peter Clementson took it on when it was in rather low water. I seem to think the name was Bucknell but I’m not sure.

Were they just in the Old Rectory, there were no other buildings there then?

Yes, this is another train of thought. There was a wooden building along the front built by a very good joiner who had his workshop in our stable yard and he was, this is just awful, no I mean it was in my mind a minute ago and it’s just gone. Who’s the person whose husband’s just been taken ill.

Mrs Waters

Yes, her father was the joiner, I think. He built the form rooms to begin with

And that was while you were here, that was done?


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