A History of Frieth

Frieth as I knew it - as told by Mrs. J. Brown

[ 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

This is a story of Frieth as I remember it in 1890.

Starting at the top end there was a pond which has now been filled in, where the farm horses used to go for their drink. Frieth Farm was next to it, and it was owned by Mr. Toovey who lived a Shogmore, and it was tenanted by my grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Leaver. We could buy milk, butter and eggs there. Close by was a field called Innings where the cricket team had a pitch. They usually played on Saturdays when seats were placed round the field, and people used to go and watch and have a pleasant afternoon. There was a gate and a stile to get into it, and a gate at the other end which took you into Little Frieth where there were several old cottages, and in one of them lived an old lady called Mary Austin. We used to visit her, and when asked how she was, she always said: "Thank the blessed Lord I be as I be. It's me poor old bones as aches, but come in and have ye a glass of Nathalum." This she made from honeycomb from her bees, and it was very good. I believe it is what is called Mead today.

Then opposite the Farm was a little old cottage, now altered and enlarged, called "Sara's", where Mr. Will Latham lived for many years with his wife Sarah. He was Sexton at the Church for a very long time and was sadly missed when he passed away. We had a wonderful choir, and the services were at 11 am, and 3 pm, and were very well attended. Some people paid for their seats, and Mr. Cripps, later Lord Parmoor, often read the lessons. Most of the furniture in the Church was made by the firm of West and. Collier of Frieth.

A little further down from the Farm was the Firm where they made chairs and church furniture. It employed quite a lot of men and the women matted the chairs with rushes. Then to the Parsonage which has now been sold and also the ground, and a house built there.

The Village School had about a hundred pupils in the old days. The farm labourers' children had to pay a penny a week, while the Firm people's children had to pay twopence for each child. Mr. Tom West was our Headmaster, and a very good one he was. The highlight of the year vas when the schoolchildren were invited to Parmoor House for tea. We all met at the school, with our drinking mugs hung round our necks on a piece of string, then marched with our teachers with Lane End Band leading the way. Mr. and M:rs. Cripps and family met us and we had a good tea sitting on the grass, and afterwards we had games, and some of us danced the maypole.

Parmoor Show was a great event in the village life. It was held in the ground of Parmoor House and vegetables and fruit and sewing were on show, and money prizes were given to the winners. When the present Lord Parmoor came of age the whole village was given a tea and a good time was had by all.

Opposite the Church there were two old elms which have been cut down and there was a tank just near which was placed there for the water from the church roof, and people used to get their water there, but it is now covered in.

Next, coming down the road, is an old house where Mrs. West had a Lacemaking school, and she also taught the girls to read and write. Opposite to this was the General Store and Post Office, and there was also a Bakery which has now gone. The store is still there, but the Post Office went to the top of the village, where it remained until 1969.

Now we come to Barlows, which was a Public House called the Royal Oak, which was kept by the Barlow family. Jim Barlow was the licensee, with his two sisters Helen and Sarah, but it has been closed for many years and is now a private dwelling.

At the Yew Tree, where the licence was held by Mr. Turner, was a brick oven where bread was made, which Mr. Turner sold and delivered.

On a little further we come to Pear Tree Cottage where Mr. Barksfield kept a Boot and Shoe shop and also sold oil. Then on to a small-holding now called Hilliers, which took in Perrin Spring, where you could buy milk and eggs, but now it is all built on and the dear old lane has gone.

Further down the road is a bricked-up square, which was a spring where the village people had to get their drinking water before the water was piped. It was interesting to see them with their yokes and buckets. Then on to the Blacksmith's Forge which was a lovely place to go and see the horses shod, but it has been pulled down now, and the pond which was opposite has been filled in.

We had a Whit Fair each year, which was held on Moor Common on the ground in front of the Prince Albert, where we had coconut shies and stalls stocked with sweets from the village store, but the best things to eat were the slices of cold rice pudding, very sweet and a penny a portion, made and sold by Mary Anne Bond. We had music played by an old man with a melodeon, and dancing on the Common.

I might mention that there are some very old cottages on either side of the village street, built of flint and brick.

About the turn of the century we had the Beanfeasts. The Beanfeasters were men who used to come down from London by train and were met at Marlow Station with horse and brake and had a drive round the countryside before arriving at the Yew Tree for a good hot dinner which included broad beans and other vegetables, cooked and served by my mother, Mrs. Leaver, and a host of helpers. The men had a good tea and a rousing sing-song before thanking everyone for a very happy day and leaving for home. We made many friends with whom we have kept in touch during the years.

I must mention how we children used to go 'leasing'. I think the proper name is 'gleaning'. We used to go to a field where they were carting the wheat and had permission from the farmer to go in when the last load was out - then it was a scramble with the children and mothers - we picked up the wheat which had been left and made "Dollys". When we got home we cut the straw from the ears of the corn and took it up to Ibstone Windmill where they ground it into flour and we had enough flour to last the winter. Mother used to make bread and puddings with it.

I hope you will be able to picture Frieth as it was in days gone by.

Mrs. J. Brown (1877 - 1973), Upender, Spurgrove