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David J Binningsley

I moved to Ashmansworth from Inkpen in October 1952 with my family father “Bing” mother Mary and younger brother Graham we lived in a wooden bungalow “Liddly Lodge” now a brick built house called Fieldway. The bungalow belonged to Mr and Mrs Saunders who lived at Liddly and bred the Liddly breed of Labradors. Mr Saunders who at 75 still used to walk into Newbury and back weekly.

My mother used to help with the housework and feeding, exercising of the dogs, my father used to work on a Saturday morning mainly keeping the woods tidy on the “Liddly” land 

My mother and father integrated into the village and ran whist drives etc in the village hall, they also ran dance classes at the village hall in Upper Woodcutt. Mother also wrote a weekly article for the Newbury Weekly News under “Village Life” 

As a townie born in London as a cockney I loved the outdoor life that the village and its environs gave to me, I used to help on Alexander Farm when the Broads ran it, they used to have a dairy herd that supplied most of the village with milk this was pasteurised and bottled at the farm and delivered on a push cart thro’ the village, in snowy weather by tractor and trailer, the residue was collected by the Milk Marketing Board.

There were also cereal crops grown which were cut and stacked by the Broads and then threshed by a travelling company that used to visit many local farms.

There was a Post Office where Pikes Cottage now stands which also used to sell a few groceries etc. When this closed the Plough opened up the “Bottle and Jug” doors and we were able to buy a few bits and pieces from there.

There were also the various traders who visited the village, baker, grocer and even a travelling chemist. 

Ronnie Broad introduced me to cricket when the village had a ground and team, Major Green was the driving force behind the club and he could be seen most days with his two Whippets tending the ground, Major Green used to live in a thatched cottage opposite the road that goes to the Post office cottages. (Shown in the snowy picture with the seat and sign post) Also Tony Thayer’s father
used to look after the outfield. We used to play teams from Faccombe, Kingsclere, Falkland, East Woodhay and other local villages. I believe that when the club disbanded the equipment was sold on to Hurstbourne Priors CC. My introduction to cricket has stayed with me all my life and I am still involved as Groundsman and Vice Chairman of Abingdon Vale Cricket Club.

The cricket ground was used every year for the “Ashmansworth Fete” with many events taking place.

I was friends with Tony and Grenville Baker we used to get all over the village, one day when there was ice on the Mere pond we went skating unfortunately either Tony or Grenville fell in and was rescued by Miss Barton from the Flint house that overlooks the green.

I recall the Fisher’s at Steeles Farm , the Finzi’s used to hold garden parties and Coopers of Lower Manor Farm.. As I said earlier the Broad’s ran Alexander Farm.

My mother and Mrs Broomfield (Ma) from Meadowside cottages were good friends.

I also remember Barbara Smith who used to live in the “Rank” I believe she married and lived in the house opposite the entrance to “Liddly” (?)

The Gentleman who lived in Ashmansworth Manor was a Scot and he could be heard regularly playing his Bagpipes outside.

During my time there was a big fire, which destroyed a large part of The Tithe Barn house in which the chauffer/handyman died.

I also think that Mere Cottage used to act as a library. (This may not be right)

The children of the village used to go to school in Hurstbourne Tarrant or Andover. There was a bus to take us, on snowy days we would have to walk to the end of Cross Lane to catch the bus (no excuses in those days). Swansdown from Inkpen used to supply the bus.

The Chapel was still used in those days with most of us children attending Sunday School, with some who used to walk over from Crux Easton.

There were many other people I can recall but unfortunately not their names. 

I still look back with fond memories of my time in Ashmansworth albeit 3 short years, but it was to shape my life. Which I suppose is why I return whenever I am near.

Penelope Lake

I was thrilled to receive this from David Binningsley. Indeed, as you will know, I was Penelope Saunders and the Binningsleys were my parents' tenants at The Lodge (renamed Fieldway when replaced with a brick bungalow in 1966) when Liddly was finally built (it was due to start in September 1939 and for obvious reasons was not built until after the war. We lived in The Lodge from 1945 to 1951 until moving into the newly built Liddly.   The Finzis got their Planning Permission a month or so earlier and Church Farm was built in time before the War.

I can tell you that the Post Office (then run by the Mays) was where the Cottrell's lived and it now has a different name - Pikes Cottage. It is on the left as you go down the lane to where the Flower Show is now held most years.  I can remember going there to buy sweets at the start of each month when sweets were still rationed - we had 2 oz. a week and the trick was to buy the lightest weighing sweets so that you had more in number but not in weight!! Before that, the shop was in what is now Flint House - occupied by the Daltons before the Bartons.  I remember the son, Lee Dalton, got shot with an air gun pellet by some other boy in the village and there was an awful to-do.  He was not really hurt.  You stepped down to go into the house and I can remember as a very small child seeing a side of a pig hanging up on the wall.   

I do not know if you are in touch with Ron Broad (of Alexander Farm) but he does come up from time to time to see the Fishers but I have not seen him for about two years now.  Major Green was the Agent for
the Hollington Estate and a very colourful character.  He used to borrow my father's roller to roll the Cricket Ground and tow it up our long drive to the field in a very old green car - my father used to umpire and I was the Scorer.  One day the back bumper could take the strain and weight no longer and it came adrift - I am told the air was extremely blue with his swearing!!!!

He mentions the Bakers and a Bakers married a Lawson and I think they lived in The (Liddly) Lodge just before the Binningsleys (I don't think it was after).

At the time David was there, there was a Fosbury living where Ellie Fane now lives who was gardener at Ashmansworth Manor next door.  So I don't think he has the right house for her.

Indeed, the Archdales lived at Ashmansworth Manor and he did practice the bagpipes every Sunday morning.  They were friends of my parents.  He was not very good and it was more of a whine than
musical!  They had two children, Audley and Anthea.  Anthea now lives in Dorset and I do hear news of her from time to time as she lives in the next door village of the daughter of a friend of mine.

I never knew how or when Mrs. Broomfield's husband died so that was interesting.  I remember her well - she and Mrs. Goddard lived next door to each other in the two cottages which is now where the Blacks
live.  Mrs. Broomfield was a great wine maker - dandelion wine, etc. and always won First Prize at the Flower Show.  I know it was extremely potent and you had to be very careful to only have a few sips if
you wanted to get home again safely!!!!  

My parents bought Steeles Farm in 1938/39 which included Steeles Cottage - now Pheasant Cottage.  Although my father used to come down to shoot on the farm, we did not move until 1946.  The farm was
tenanted by the Heaths until he died, when my parents then let the farm to the Fishers.  They subsequently bought it from them.  The Lodge was two chicken sheds given to my parents towards the end of the War as a present by someone living near Bradford who bred Labradors, put together in an L
shape.  You would normally have to get a wood licence to buy wood to build anything with.  I think I am now probably one of a handful of people who can go so far back as living in the village.  

You mention the Village Hall - I can indeed remember Scottish dancing in the old one - the floor nearly gave way with all the exercise - and raising funds for the new/current one.  I am not sure if I was at the
opening in 1956 although I was at that time both Secretary of the PCC and Treasurer for the Flower Show.