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A Farm Holiday in the 50s

This is a lovely laid back reminiscence of a girl's childhood visits to stay with her relatives at a farmhouse in the late 1950s. Apart from Grovehill House and the Nickey line there were only fields from Lovatts End right up to St Paul's Hospital.

 

Jenny Bates, nee Harnden, told me that when she was about 8 or 9 years old when her parents used to take her to the seaside for about a week of the summer holidays, with the rest spent with her grandfather, grandmother, uncle, aunt and cousin at Little Lovett's End Farm on Dodds Lane.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She and her mother and father used to cycle from Enfield in north London to the farm and then her parents would cycle home again, coming back after a few weeks to take her home. Her uncle had a car.

 

The Lovett's End Farms were, and still are owned by the Stanbridge family. Jennie remembers visiting the farm when her uncle and aunt were lodgers there, both having just come out of the army.

 

Her aunt and uncle had two dogs and possibly a reason for her grandparent's visits were to care for the dogs in their absence.

 

She recalls her grandma coming into the bedroom in the dark, carrying a candle with her long white hair let down from its twisted bun, probably just to check that she was safely in bed, but very frightening in the dark for young children away from home.

 

Staying at the farmhouse was such a treat, what children dream about, so different from London, and no rush. With pleasant memories, Jennie helped in the house and kitchen and 'did as she was told', the children not doing much, just amusing themselves in the farm yard and fields. They never ventured as far a Grovehill House nor were they taken to see the railway.

 

There were free range pullets at the farm and Jenny remembers helping to collect the eggs, looking after the dogs and sitting on the gate watching all those who passed by. She also remembers covering her ears in horror at the dreadful noise of the piglets squealing.

 

Water was pumped up from a well by a two hp petrol engine in a wooden outhouse. Food was cooked on a range in the kitchen which would have burned coal.

 

Indications of their place in the social order come through in Jennie's memories; Grandad had been

a guard on St Pancras station and 'knew his place'. Her aunt had been an officer in the WACS but uncle had only been a private in the army, and not a 'Gentleman', and so her aunt had 'married beneath her'. Grandad lived as most people did then, obeying the 'letter of the law'.

 

Although she doesn't remember having any pocket money, Jenny does remember little treats such as walking across the fields, probably cutting through an alleyway at the back of the Cupid to the shop in the Redbourn Road to buy milk, and an ice cream. She sat outside the pub with lemonade.

 

 Jenny can't remember where she caught the bus for the rare trips to the Old Town which remained vibrant in her memory. She recalls seeing the bacon in a shop there and watching the butter cut with a wire and being made into pats on the large marble counter by a man in a big white apron. Was this shop called David Grieg or was it the Home and Colonial grocers', the facade of which is still to be seen there?

 

They had occasional visitors, people out for a Sunday drive or a bike ride, curious to see where they ended up used to come to the farm and stop for a chat. Jennie's grandma would make them cups of tea and possibly they left a little tip to pay for it. One day her mischievous cousin changed the road signs round and redirected all the cars to Lovett's End Farm which must have been chaotic on such narrow lanes and it was a day or two before it was discovered.

 

Like so many people who live here Jenny's connection with the town repeated itself and she now lives in Hemel Hempstead.

 

Jenny Bates Remembers

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