A History of Frieth

FRIETH - as told by E.J. "Ted" Collier

[ Snapshots in time ]
The Geographical Setting
The Early History
The Middle Ages
The Growth of a Community
1800 - 1860
1860 - 1900
1900 - 1973
The Name Frieth
Pillow Lace
West & Collier
[ The Colliers of West & Collier ]
West & Collier Catalogues
Notes on The Firm
Notes on Frieth
Further Notes on Frieth
Frieth as I knew it
Memories of bygone years
Frieth 45 years ago
The Posse Comitatus
[ Chisbridge Farm ]

Sections [in square brackets] are additions to the original content

[ The following was written by Ted Collier in January 1970. It contains reminiscences of his life from his birth in 1888 into the early years of the 20th Century. I remember Ted as a character in the village when I was young and I'm sad that I didn't know him better. There are some further mentions of him in "Your House and Mine"
Ted Collier seen here enjoying a joke at a party held for some of the senior folk in Frieth in 1961. (Image from John Harris's collection)

Left to right are :
Ida Greenshields (my mother's stepmother), Mrs Collier, Ted Collier, Mrs Lambley,
Mrs Hanson, ?, and (just visible at the edge of the frame) Emma Keep - long time publican of The Yew Tree.

You can see original images of the letter : Page1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 or read the text below as best I have been able to read the spidery handwriting of a man who was 82 years old when it was written.  I have made no attempts to "correct" the spelling or grammar and there are a few words I have had difficulty making out.  If anyone can decipher it better than I then please let me know. Ted Collier's map of the Village which is attached to the end of the letter can be seen reproduced on the back cover of "Frieth - A Chiltern Village".

On 29.9.1877 Charles Webb and Edward Collier signed the lease of the Baker and Grocer shop at Frieth from Ephraim Webb then owner which included "Stabling, Carthouse, Woodhouse and Sheds" (then existing on the left of footpath leading to Woodacres ) at a Rental of £20 per annum, "Tenant paying rates and taxes and keeping oven in repair owner paying other repairs"

This property and the plot of ground at "the Forge" later was purchased by West & Collier. I was born in the Shop on 15th September 1888.  Ephraim moved to The Cottage next door during his last illness Albert Barksfield and I were taken to sleep in his room. He died in 1898 his memorial stone is on the left from the Lych Gate. Stocks were held of Lace making materials, Blankets, Sheets and Pig feed. Sheep (occasionally) and Pigs often were killed in the woodyard fresh joints sold and much Bacon cured in The Brine Cellar. The oven was heated with wood kindlers. Bladders of Lard and Brawn was very popular. Wood ashes were put in our bedrooms for winter warmth plus hot Bricks wrapt in flannel. The first Post Office was opened here about 1895 two of my sisters were "sworn in" as "Postmen" to deliver mail to Little Frieth Spurgrove and Perrin Spring twice daily 2/6 per week. Boys were dressed in girls clothes, hair allowed to grow until 3 years of age when they were shorn, Breeched and sent to School. Thos. West was my Schoolmaster on his retirement a Mistress was appointed, who could do little with her unruly Scholars and left quickly. She brought me a Box of Paints "for being such a good boy" This unmerited gift cannot be forgotten.

Horse Donkey and Goat owners grazed them on the Commons. A plot was kept at Moor End where good turf could be cut for Graves. A Quoits Pitch also at Moor End. Gypsy's used to camp for quite long periods. Two family's settled there on the Stanborough's, horse dealers at The Folly. Jabez Buckland Tinker at Moor End. The house known as Bramblings Moor End was built for Thomas Barlow. The Flints in this were brought from [the Bishop of ?] Lincolns place at Fingest. The Cottage down the track nearest to Copse Wood was the home of the [Brazier ?] Family for a very long time by tradition built by a Wood End Family where horses and men could rest whilst the passengers attended Service at Ackhampstead Chapel. Between this cottage and the site of the Chapel exists the largest of the two local Swilly holes. The other is just below Dover's farm.

The Brick and flint Shed at Astraea was the old Forge. Another was at Rockall End closed in recent years as also the Blacksmiths shop at Frieth Horsepond.

Water and Light
The coming of water, from Marlow, also Electric Current, between the wars caused the springs to fall into disuse. Springs were near the foot of Frieth Hill, near the Prince Albert, at Moor End & Little Frieth. Canon Ridley had had the church guttered and a Tank dug to retain the rain water complete with Pump. At time of drought The Parish Council opened this supply for The Village. I remember one year when the Well at Goddards had to supply water for Bread Making. It cost over £50 for water when Hayles Croft was built. A deep well was dug in Yew Tree Meadow – failed to reach water.

Before the Village Hall was built Concerts and other Public Meetings were held in The School. The Parsonage was given to the Village by Canon Ridley where a room was always available for small meetings and the Lawn for Fetes etc. The Bucket Toilet led to rather a scene when a Mothers Union Party guest met misfortune as she sought for hidden gifts in the grounds. The first Curate was the Revd. F.L. Slocock with whom  my mother came as Parlourmaid. The memorial to his sons, killed in the first war, was carved at The Firm, is on the west wall in The Church . The Pulpit, Fauld Stool and Choir Stalls ( made by Archie Collier in his spare time and given by his father Thomas) Archie also designed and carved most of the Font Cover.
A club for Boys and men was held for may years for Reading, Billiards and other games. The Ladies held Dressmaking, Cookery classes. Plays were often performed. There was a Drum and Fife Band - Mr C. Brazier B'master. A popular minstrel troupe visited for some years. He & W. Barksfield were Corner Men. Clap Netting with Lanterns was a Winter Pastime for young men and old, The Church at that time was [ log clad ?? ], birds caught had breasts skinned and cooked in the Bakers oven with a feast in Shop and Bakehouse.
Scott Cook the possessor of a Large Phonograph came to stay with his relatives at Shogmoor. He was said to have invented some part of this instrument. Most evenings he gave a performance outside Barlows Inn. On Sundays he sang lustily in Church. He also bought a New Suit for 3 of his pals (drinking) and sat with them in Church. He often came into The Shop and bought sides of Bacon, joints of which were given to the elderly plus Tea Sugar etc.

Two villagers went to the Boer War F. Goldswain and Harry Collier. The former in the C.IVs. Harry served on HMS Terrible with Sir Percy Scott and was promoted for his work helping to make and maintain the carriage for "Long Tom" the gun used for relief of Ladysmith. Mafeking Night was kept with much merrymaking. The Bonfire on the Village Green was built on a scaffold with a Barrel of tar on top. Wood was given by The Firm and farmers sent hedge Trimmings. The heat was such that it scorched paint and cracked windows at The Gables and kept the Dancers at a distance. The memorials to the fallen of Both world wars are in St Johns Church

During the severe depression in the early years of this [20th] Century the Squire then ( C.A. Cripps) after Lord Parmoor had Trees Cut grubbed and a Drive laid through Moor End wood with flowering shrubs either side. It was gravelled and duly opened. This gave Employment to many men. A Lake was also dug inside Parmoor grounds (for the same relief work) and a large corrugated shed built to supply the water for it. Frogs made such a noise in the lake so it was drained and made into a garden.
Each year a Flower show was held in the Grounds with races, Band and a Tea free to all. I possess a china mug won in a 50 yard race at Queen Victoria Jubilee. This Family kept the Church paths gravelled with material from Pebbly Hill ideal for catapult ammunition. The posts and chains were erected after Mrs Ruth Cripp's horse bolted.

The Doctor lived in the house behind "The Stag" at Pheasants Hill [and] used to travel around in a pony trap. Night work was avoided when possible because of the time involved. There was o trained nurse but several elderly ladies acted as midwives and gave help as needed in sickness. We young folk were given copious helping of Brimstone and Treakle (for spots) Senna Tea and for severe cough and whooping cough onions cut in half sprinkled with Brown Sugar, left overnight, the juice resulting served often by Tea Spoon

The last field harvested by hand was also the last as a family we gleaned the wheat ears was the one where The School House was later built. Our harvest thrashed by old Will Ginger by flail in Barlows Barn. My father used to take the corn to Copstone windmill, then working. The Miller would exchange so much flour for the corn.

Stones used to be gathered in the fields paid for 10d or 1/- per square yard. These were carted to stone breaking plots by the roadside where men too old to work on the farms would sit on sacks wearing metal eye protectors and crack the stones to the size required. The stones were put on the roads and firmed with a Steam roller. The Parish Council were responsible for road work also for keeping the Ponds cleaned out during summer months.

"A.All" a wood square with N.none H.half P.put T.take A.All O.out we used to through up for buttons and marbles. Wood stilts were popular both were supplied on request at the Chair Firm. "Kick Can", "Hop Scotch", several varieties of Marble games. "Hare & Hounds" a paper chase was run on Saturday afternoon. 2 Hares would have a few minutes start carrying large bags of paper fragments with which a trail or false trail was laid. My elder Brothers and Sisters paid a few coppers weekly school fees I was first to be exempt. Clothing & Coal clubs were shared in by many housewives to their benefit as a small bonus was added. Coal was 8d a cwt and beyond the means of many. Houses were lit by candle or Paraffin lamps.

All classes were far too large. Children walked from Finnamore, Skirmett and Greenwood Cottages. The attendance was around 150 sometimes more. The New End infants class room was built after I had left the infant class. We started school at 3 and supposed to leave at 13, girls then left home to go into Domestic Service. Boys could pass a special exam and leave at 12 if their parents needed them to work to help the family income. I was one of them. During Summer holidays most boys would as Pig minders, Bird Pullers, Charlock weeding or leading the foremost horse in the Harvest field. Pay 6am – 6pm 6d. Sweets were [ ? ] when we were "good".
The village was visited on Sunday mornings by Muffin Sellers & Singers. Barrel Organs came frequently. "Cheap Jacks" used to bring a Wagon and display their hardware on The Village Green.
"Rough Music" was used still; when following a wife beating, men would muster with musical instruments, tins, baths anything that would make a noise and make a Din outside the offenders house. The last one I attended was at the Stanboroughs at The Folly. Police arrived and several men were summoned and fined at Marlow Court.
The road from Yew Tree to Pond was very narrow, wagons and Steam Engines often had to be dug from roadside clay.
Most families owned wooden yokes to ease the carrying of water from the spring with little wooden [ ? ] on the pails to avoid spilling. "Rags, bones bottle & jam jar barrow men were popular as we boys were given paper windmills in exchange.
A Horse and wagon Carrier called once a week from Lane End to Marlow – fare 4d return. The Carrier would do shopping, collect and deliver parcels.
During the winter dry Rushes  would be gathered on the Common, peeled and made into "roses" for Decorating Church windows. The Allotments reached from, including, the site of Hayles Croft (and V Hall) to the [path?] at Short Lane. The Churchyard Extension were formerly allotments.
Quite a Large Deep Pit existed from Hilltop to half way of V.Hall. This was filled in with Saw Dust etc from The Firm.
Sunday School Choir practices and Concerts were held in The Day School. Choir boys were paid 1/2d each attendance and fined 1/2d each time absent which made our heaps of coppers of varying heights on pay nights. I was first put into Surplice & Cassock at the funeral of Mrs C.A.Cripps and I regret to say I was discharged in 1900 for misconduct at Practice!
There was a gate leading to inning meadow another at L. Frieth. The road then being surfaced by Frieth Farm until it was taken over by The Council. There were no houses on [ Cripps ? ] Field.
One of my least pleasant memories was the plite of old people left with no Means of Support being taken to the Henley workhouse.

 Ayres Fair
used to be held yearly on the Common opposite The Prince Albert when Coconut Brandy Snap & old Aunt Sally Stalls joined in with a hand turned Roundabout and Swings to provide a spot of cheer for us youngsters.

            Apologies for a tangled version etc

Yours sincerely

Edward J Collier

, Moor End
Jan 1970